Tag Archives: Citytv

Hudson & Rex: Jessie Gabe on writing for a series where a dog is the star

Jessie Gabe took a bit of a circuitous route to writing for television. Initially interested in acting, she moved from Montreal to Toronto where she performed and wrote sketch comedy. But it was on a train where her professional writing career took off.

“I met a guy on a train and I very luckily wound up, through him, meeting his cousin, who is now my agent and who got me my first job as a writer on Being Erica,” Gabe says. A stint on Being Erica was followed by co-creating Agnes & Harold (which she also starred in), penning the film Cas & Dylan, and a writing and executive producer gig on Mr. D and Frankie Drake Mysteries.

She also was part of the writing staff and co-executive producer on Season 1 of Hudson & Rex. In this week’s episode, the team moves quickly when Donovan’s ex wakes up with blood on her hands and a dead roommate. We caught up with Gabe, who is freelance writing scripts for Season 2 of Hudson & Rex and co-writing a feature film on the life of Canadian Phil Hartman.

Had you ever considered writing before?
JG: I had written, but I actually had never considered being a professional screenwriter. I don’t think it had occurred to me. I was in my 20s, and I had written sketch and by a total fluke, I had written a couple of spec scripts quite a bit before that, just because a friend of mine was considering being a writer and it was an activity that I did with him. I had them on file, but it was like a game at the time. And I was working on a feature, that again, with really no knowledge of anything, no outline, just Page 1, fade in, because my roommate was a filmmaker and thought, ‘We don’t anything, and you’ll write it, and you’ll star in it, and I’ll film it.’ We were both struggling artists. Luckily, it didn’t get made, thank god. It turned into Cas & Dylan, and it got made with, thank god, not myself in the lead role.

A dog stands, looking into the camera.You were on Mr. D, then you were on Frankie Drake Mysteries. And once you were in the Shaftesbury door, I’m assuming that’s part of the reason you ended up on Hudson & Rex, is that true?
JG: Yeah, they just moved me over. I was winding down on Frankie, and they were like, ‘Hey, we need writers on Rex.’ Initially, I was hired to just do one script and four weeks on the show, and I really thought it was just a short little stint, because they initially had, what was it, 8, or 10 episodes?

And then I suddenly got a call saying, ‘They’ve just expanded it, can you do another script?’ And I was like, ‘Great!’ And then a few weeks later, they’re like, ‘We just found out now that the order is 16. Would you do another script?’ And it kept expanding, so I kept getting a few more weeks, and then another script, and a few more. And now, I’m freelancing on Season 2, writing another script.

What were your first thoughts when it came to writing Hudson & Rex?
JG: I think the initial challenge was what is the tone of the show? Probably everybody assumed going in that it was going to be extremely lighthearted and comedic. And that’s my wheelhouse anyway, so I figured that’s what I’m going to bring also. Comedy is more my thing really. And then I get into the room, and the storylines are pretty heavy and dark. And I thought, ‘What is happening here?’ But it’s interesting, it’s just not what I initially expected, and I think maybe I wasn’t alone to think that, so we started to adapt. Making the dog the star of the show and trying to tell a mystery that would be impossible to solve without the dog—the dog is supposedly Charlie’s superpower—that is the goal that we always strive for anyway. It can be challenging, but it’s interesting that the show itself is more like just a cop procedural. So it doesn’t have that childlike, or younger, tone that maybe we initially expected going on.

Even though the writers’ room is so collaborative, when it comes to writing, do you go off on your own, do you have a soundtrack that you listen to while you write, do you need to be in a Starbucks or something with some background noise, how does it work for you?
JG: I don’t like listening to music, because I’ll start singing along, or even humming to a tune. I’m not hearing the words and the dialogue, so I like being quiet. But at the same time, I’m happy to work in a coffee shop, so background noise doesn’t bother me. But I tend to work at home. I’m flexible. I don’t have only one way that I can do it. I have a four-year-old and sometimes it’s wherever.

Is there anything that you’re working on that you talk about at this point, or is it all just about focusing on Hudson & Rex?
JG: A feature that I’ve been working on, it’s a biopic about Phil Hartman. I have a co-writing credit with Jonas Chernick. He wrote the initial script that I was brought on to rewrite, but we’re co-writers on it. So yes, story biopic about Phil Hartman, and we’ll see where it goes. It’s being produced by Tyler Levine at Carousel Pictures. Phil Hartman’s daughter has been very supportive and got the creators of The Simpsons on board with us.

Hudson & Rex airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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Hudson & Rex: Tony Butt reveals the secrets to scouting locations

After a few weeks away, Hudson & Rex returned to Citytv last week on a new night. Now airing on Thursdays, Charlie, Rex, Sarah, Joe and Jesse are back at it, taking a bite out of crime (I know, I’m sorry) in and around St. John’s, Newfoundland.

This week’s new episode is “Fast Eddies,” and Rogers Media has this to say about the storyline:

After a reviled restaurateur’s food truck explodes, killing one of his employees, Charlie and Rex find themselves with a few too many suspects. Plus, a flirtation has Charlie torn between a possible new love interest and Rex, who makes no secret of his feelings on the matter.

The return of Hudson & Rex also marks the return of our behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. This week we caught up with locations manager Tony Butt.

A man and a woman face each other, standing on a boat.How did you get into the industry in the first place?
Tony Butt: I had spent my 20s in the oil industry and I quit because I didn’t like what I was doing and didn’t know what I was doing. I went on a motorcycle trip and was sitting in a theatre in New Orleans, watching a film festival and said, ‘That’s what I’ll do.’ So, I came back to St. John’s and started dabbling in the incredible co-operative called the Newfoundland Independent Film Co-operative. I walked in one day and they were training for films and the only job left was locations, so I took it. I’ve spent a bunch of years doing that.

I’ve worked in other departments and have been out of the industry for six or seven years and then I [joined Hudson & Rex].

Where does the location manager fit into the production schedule? You’re somewhere between the initial script and the filming.
TB: The script comes down and the art director vets it. We sit down together and bring in the director as soon as possible and we look at everyone’s vision. I then go out and scout locations, keeping in mind practicality, aesthetics and the needs of both the director and the production. And then I present as many options as I can get. And you try and cluster locations as much as you can. There were some challenges on Hudson & Rex because they wanted a cosmopolitan feel with a lot of modern buildings. We don’t have a lot of that, per se, so we had to work with those restrictions. And we shot in winter but they didn’t want to see snow. That didn’t have much to do with me, but it did have some. Everyone pulled together and I was really impressed.

Have you got locations in your back pocket for reference so you have an idea of a place as soon as you see it in a script?
TB: Absolutely. And, also, St. John’s is a small city that has developed in segments. You know the neighbourhoods. This one was developed in the 80s, this one was developed in the 60s, so you can really narrow down your search. And then, you try to build a day around one location without having to move the unit, ideally. And you have people to help you, like real estate agents and people who manage properties. So, yeah, you have properties that you go to first and then go further if you have to.

Hudson & Rex airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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Shaftesbury’s Ireland-Canada co-pro Dead Still currently in production for RTE, Acorn TV, and Citytv

From a media release:

Dublin-based Deadpan Pictures and Toronto-based producer Shaftesbury today announced that production is underway on new mystery drama series DEAD STILL (6 X 60). The Ireland-Canada co-production is co-commissioned by RTÉ and Acorn Media Enterprises (AME) alongside ZDF Enterprises. Set in 1880s Ireland in the Victorian era heyday of “postmortem photography,” the six-episode period drama follows a renowned memorial photographer as he investigates the murders of his recently deceased subjects. DEAD STILL is written by John Morton and directed by Imogen Murphy (Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, Red Rock) and Craig David Wallace (Slasher, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, Murdoch Mysteries). Acorn Media Enterprises has secured all rights in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom; co-premiere rights in Canada; and secondary rights in Ireland. ZDF Enterprises will distribute the series in the rest of the world. It was developed with the support of Screen Ireland and Creative Europe. DEAD STILL will premiere in 2020 on RTÉ in Ireland, on Acorn TV in the United States as an Acorn TV Original, and in Canada on Citytv, a division of Rogers Media. The series, with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), is currently filming on location in and around Dublin through June 2019.

DEAD STILL blends mystery and drama with gallows humour, and features an incredible ensemble of acclaimed international actors including Michael Smiley (Luther as DS Benny Silver, Wire in the Blood, Death and Nightingales) as Brock Blennerhasset, Kerr Logan (Game of Thrones, Victoria, Alias Grace) as Conall Molloy, Eileen O’Higgins (Brooklyn, Mary Queen of Scots) as Nancy Vickers, and Aidan O’Hare (Jackie, Pilis) as Detective Frederick Regan. DEAD STILL also stars Jimmy Smallhorne (Taken Down, Clean Break) as Cecil Carruthers, Mark Rendall (Departure, Versailles) as Percy Cummins, Peter Campion (Derry Girls, Kat and Alfie: Redwater) as Henry Vickers, Michael Patric (Frontier, Supernatural), and Martin Donovan (Big Little Lies, Fahrenheit 451).

Dublin, 1880. The practice of memorial portraiture is at the height of its popularity – that is, the portrait photography of the recently deceased. As renowned memorial photographer Brock Blennerhasset (Smiley) expands his business with the help of his would-be actress niece Nancy Vickers (O’Higgins) and assistant Conall Molloy (Logan), someone with more sinister designs is getting in on the death photography game. A serial killer is cashing in on the sordid, developing taste for ‘snuff’ imagery – pictures of people in their death throes. The murders escalate and Detective Frederick Regan (O’Hare) of the Dublin Metropolitan Police suspects that Ireland may have its first serial murderer at large. As Blennerhasset becomes a possible suspect and his family is put in harm’s way, they must track down the serial killer before he strikes again.

DEAD STILL is executive produced by Paul Donovan, Ailish McElmeel, Christina Jennings, and Scott Garvie, and produced by Suzanne McAuley. DEAD STILL is an Ireland/Canada treaty co-production produced by Deadpan Pictures (Ireland) and Shaftesbury (Canada) in association with RTÉ, Acorn TV with Acorn Media Enterprises, ZDF Enterprises, and BAI, and with the participation of the Irish Tax Credit, Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, and the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit. DEAD STILL was developed with the support of Screen Ireland and Creative Europe.

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Citytv celebrates Canadian storytelling with new 2019/20 original programming slate

From a media release:

A cop-and-canine crime-fighting duo, an 1880s photographer with a macabre specialty, and an intergalactic space queen are among the weirdly wonderful characters coming to Citytv in 2019/20. The new original Canadian programming slate includes scripted series Hudson & Rex (Season 2), Dead Still, and Vagrant Queen. And with six new Canadian shows in development for Citytv, there are even more original stories to come for TV lovers.

With a Season 2 order for Hudson & Rex, Citytv’s popular original Canadian scripted series returns to the Fall schedule with more of what audiences love. Produced by Shaftesbury and Pope Productions Ltd., in association with Citytv and Beta Film GmbH, the police-procedural drama set in St. John’s, Nfld. follows detective Charlie Hudson (John Reardon, Van Helsing) and his German Shepherd partner, Rex (canine Diesel vom Burgimwald). Hudson & Rex is Citytv’s highest-rated original scripted series since 2015, reaching more than 2.5M viewers during its first six debut episodes*. Based on the Austrian drama Inspector Rex, Hudson & Rex also stars Mayko Nguyen (Killjoys) as Doctor Sarah Truong, Kevin Hanchard (Orphan Black) as Superintendent Joe Donovan, and Justin Kelly (Wynonna Earp) as Tech Analyst Jesse Mills.

Citytv works with some of the most innovative content creators and global partners to bring to life great new stories to appeal to Canadians, and indeed, international audiences. Building on the success of Hudson & Rex, Citytv again collaborates with Toronto-based Shaftesbury on the new series Dead Still, an Ireland/Canada treaty co-production, with RTE as the Irish broadcaster and Acorn TV in the U.S. And a fierce new heroine also joins Citytv as live-action sci-fi drama series Vagrant Queen brings the graphic novel story to a whole new audience in a Canada/South Africa treaty co-production by Toronto’s Blue Ice Pictures, also broadcast on Syfy in the U.S. Both series join the Citytv schedule in 2020.

Hudson & Rex, Dead Still, and Vagrant Queen are the newest chapters in Citytv’s ongoing commitment to tell great stories by and for Canadians. Championing Canadian independent producers and production companies across the country, Citytv supports the local industry and invests in homegrown talent with commissions that capture Canada’s rich regional character. Citytv’s original content celebrates our uniquely Canadian perspective and delivers world-class entertainment to 30 million Canadians every week.

Citytv’s New Original Series Descriptions

Broadcast dates/times to be announced in the coming months

DEAD STILL
Citytv ventures to 1880s Ireland, during the earliest days of photography, with the original light-hearted drama series Dead Still. Brock Blennerhasset (Michael Smiley, Luther) is a master photographer with the unusual specialty of “memorial photography” – taking pictures of the dead. And he’s making a killing. But not every photo captures tranquil and eternal repose. The photographer and his assistant Connal Molloy (Kerr Logan, Alias Grace), find themselves embroiled in his subjects’ mysterious deaths or murders. Dead Still blends mystery and drama with gallows humour to present a comic thriller with a witty take on the complications of working as a photographer in the early years of the practice. Dead Still also stars Eileen O’Higgens (Brooklyn), Mark Rendall (Versailles), Martin Donovan (Big Little Lies), Aidan O’Hare (Jackie), Jimmy Smallhorne (Taken Down), and Peter Campion (Derry Girls).

VAGRANT QUEEN
Featuring an all-female team of writers and directors led by Jem Garrard, Vagrant Queen is a live-action adaptation of the popular graphic novel. Driven from her throne as a child, queen Elida (Adriyan Rae, Light as a Feather) has wandered the galaxy for 15 years, scavenging for space junk and trying to evade a Republic government out to extinguish her millennia-old bloodline. When old frenemy Isaac (Tim Rozon, Wynona Earp) shows up claiming her mother is still alive, they return to her former kingdom to stage a rescue – bringing Elida face-to-face with a deadly foe from her childhood, Commander Lazaro (Paul du Toit, Maze Runner). Executive Producers are Lance Samuels and Daniel Iron.

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#1 Citytv original scripted series Hudson & Rex renewed for Season 2

From a media release:

Shaftesbury and Pope Productions are thrilled to announce freshman hit series HUDSON & REX has been renewed for season two by Citytv (16 x 60), just six episodes into its 16-episode first season. HUDSON & REX is Citytv’s highest-rated original scripted series since 2015, reaching more than 2.5M viewers during its first six debut episodes*. Season 1 of the series returns from a mid-season hiatus on June 13, with episodes moving to Thursdays at 8 ET/PT on Citytv.

Inspired by Inspector Rex, one of the most successful international television franchises airing for a total of 18 seasons in 125 countries, HUDSON & REX has been acquired by Italy’s TV powerhouse RAI for primetime. Additional territory deals to be announced in the coming weeks.

HUDSON & REX is an action-packed police-procedural drama set in St. John’s, Nfld. The series follows the partnership between cunning Major Crimes detective, Charlie Hudson (John Reardon; Van Helsing, Continuum), and his partner, Rex (canine Diesel vom Burgimwald), a German Shepherd with heightened senses and formerly with the K-9 police unit. Based on the Austrian drama Inspector Rex, HUDSON & REX also stars Mayko Nguyen (Killjoys) as Doctor Sarah Truong, Kevin Hanchard (Orphan Black) as Superintendent Joe Donovan and Justin Kelly (Wynonna Earp) as Tech Analyst Jesse Mills.

HUDSON & REX is produced by Shaftesbury and Pope Productions Ltd., in association with Citytv, a division of Rogers Media, and Beta Film GmbH. HUDSON & REX is executive produced by Christina Jennings, Scott Garvie, and Ken Cuperus; co-executive producers are Derek Schreyer, John Callaghan, and Jessie Gabe. Paul Pope and Julie Lacey are producers. Friedemann Goez and Oliver Bachert are executive producers for Beta Film GmbH. Produced with the participation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. Beta Film GmbH holds worldwide distribution rights.

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