Link: BriouxTV: The Podcast – Hamza Haq When he was nine years old, Hamza Haq’s parents immigrated from Saudi Arabia to Ottawa. The young lad quickly acclimatized to Canadian culture. He turned on the TV and started rooting for WWE heroes such as The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and many others. Continue reading.
To say Season 1 of Transplant was a success would be an understatement. Critics and viewers lauded the CTV medical drama with high ratings and Canadian Screen Award nominations and wins. The love extended to the U.S., where Transplant aired on NBC and around the world in the UK, Spain, Australia and the Netherlands.
Now Transplant is back and, judging by the season premiere—kicking off Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV—that success will grow even more.
We spoke to Joseph Kay, Transplant‘s creator—showrunner, executive producer and writer—about what’s next for Bash (Hamza Haq), Jed (John Hannah), Mags (Laurence Leboeuf), June (Ayisha Issa), Theo (Jim Watson) and recurring characters Dr. Mark Novak (Gord Rand) and Rania (Nora Guerch).
What was it like to see the love that the show was getting as the first season rolled out across North America? Joseph Kay: I was and am really, really proud that people responded to the work. Really thrilled by that. There’s a team of people who work unbelievably hard to make the show on every level, and we care a lot about what we do and put all of ourselves into it. You work hard and sometimes audiences respond and sometimes they don’t, but you work hard either way. So to see people like it, to see audiences respond to it is just very humbling and exciting and thrilling. I always did feel that there was something at the core of the show that would connect with audiences. It tells someone’s individual experience that people are interested in, but it also has some resonance and accessible themes.
We always did our best to deliver them in a warm, engaging, fast-paced, page-turney sort of way. We are excited for people to see the work we’ve been doing the last year as well.
I immediately fell in love with the characters and cared about what happened to them. And that continues in Season 2 with the first episode, “Guardrail.” What is it that makes a show succeed in this connection with an audience like Transplant does? JK: I wish I could articulate the answer to that well. I totally hear where you’re coming from, and as an avid viewer of things, sometimes you just connect and sometimes you don’t. I think on the level of Transplant, I’d say two things. One, I would first say that, man, we do have such a great ensemble, starting with Hamza, to Laurence, John, Jim, and then even expanding from there, our actors are very, very good. And I think that they deal with the emotion in a really real accessible, funny way. They’re just warm people that you want to spend time with and they convey that. So I think that’s a very huge part of it.
And in terms of the storytelling, one thing I’m proud of about the show is that we’re telling a very specific story for Bash that I think audiences are interested in, but I feel like we’re also trying to tell this kind of thematic story for everyone. Our stories are always about moving forward or starting over or reconciling old versions of ourselves with new versions of ourselves. We locate a theme and variations on the theme that allow audiences to connect with the show. And that that’s why audiences are interested in following those characters on their journeys. And finally, Transplant is a medical procedural, yes, but it’s very much about the main characters. Some of these shows have a balance that skews towards the guest stars, the patients, whereas our show is really, really firmly grounded in the doctors and the main characters. So we try really hard to get you engaged on that level as well.
Was there anything that you changed between seasons? Anything you felt needed tweaking? JK: We did some tweaking. From a narrative perspective, we feel like we’re going through stages of Bash’s journey, so we’re digging into a different side of it now. He’s kind of grasping onto job security and we get to open up deeper and wider emotional stories to tell, and that changes things, I’d say, just in terms of how we address the storytelling overall. From my perspective as a writer and producer and of all people who make the show, the directors, the editors, the people on set, we’ve gotten better at all sides of it, so it allows us some more freedom.
When we last left the group, Jed had collapsed from a stroke. Did you always know that would be the Season 1 cliffhanger? JK: In the first season I actually had intended to kill John’s character in the finale. I had always been really fascinated by the death of the mentor part of a hero’s journey. And that’s what we started off kind of thinking that Bash would’ve saved him in the pilot and there’d be lingering effects from what had happened that just kind of come out of nowhere and kill him and then Bash would’ve had to move forward without him. By around Episode 4 of production in Season 1 we realized, ‘We can’t do that.’ He’s too good. He makes everything around him better, as an actor, as a human being, as a person to collaborate with. He’s just a wonderful presence and performer.
In Monday’s episode, we are introduced to Dr. Mark Novak, who shakes up the department. I love Gord Rand and was thrilled to see him play this character. JK: I like to think of [Mark] as a little bit puckish, because he’s an agent of chaos and that’s a really fun thing to write, too, and Gord really delivered.
A question about your writer’s room. Adam Barken, Stephanie Morgenstern, Mark Ellis, Rachel Langer, Julie Puckrin … what a who’s who of a writer’s room. What was it like working with these folks in the writer’s room for Season 2? JK: We’ve been blessed on that level across the board. Everybody was really excited to come onto the show when the writing started for Season 2. And yeah, you absolutely nailed it, it’s kind of an all-star list of writers that you just rattled off. They’re all incredible. One thing that I think is great with Transplant is because there’s freedom in the narrative when it comes to the kinds of stories we tell it encourages great writers like that to come with stories they are really passionate about, they would love to tell that maybe it would be harder to tell in other kinds of places. And I always am like, ‘Yeah, let’s find a way to tell that story.’ I feel like it excites the writers, so we have this season all throughout, all of those people brought selflessly pieces of themselves to share and pour into the show. And I’m really proud of the results that are great. We’re lucky to have them.
“Guardrail” really kicks off Season 2 with incredible visuals. JK: I want to shout out to Stefan Pleszczynski, our lead director and one of the EPs this year who is a huge part of just maintaining the aesthetic consistency of the show. Beyond Stef, the whole production team is really committed to that. Our director of photography, Pierre Gill, is an unbelievably talented guy, and we sort of across the board take that really, really seriously. Directors who come to the show all want to knock it out of the park on a visual level. There’s a way that the show’s written that encourages long takes or exciting movement, and the directors all really like to play and make the production value really sing.
What types of stories are on the way in Season 2? There are stories coming up where we deal with different issues, medical issues, cultural issues. And in all of those cases, we just take the research and authenticity and truthfulness component extremely hard, because I think that something that’s inherent to the tone of the show across the board is it tries to be grounded. It tries to be human. It tries to be emotionally honest. So we always like to do that work and we challenge ourselves to do that work and be challenged all the way from idea to beyond editing, and editing is still doing that work.
You ended the first season with a cliffhanger. Is that the same with Season 2? Have you set that bar? Is there a cliffhanger at the end? JK: There is a cliffhanger at the end of Season 2. There are multiple cliffhangers.
Following a successful first season that garnered worldwide acclaim, and four Canadian Screen Award wins including Best Drama Series, CTV Original drama TRANSPLANT returns for its second season Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning Jan. 3 on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app. Season 2 of TRANSPLANT is produced by Sphere Media in association with CTV and Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, and the translated French version, TRANSPLANTÉ, joins Noovo’s lineup in 2022.
Filmed in Montréal, Season 2 of TRANSPLANT consists of 13 one-hour episodes and is anchored by Hamza Haq (My Salinger Year) as Dr. Bashir Hamed – known to most as Bash – a talented doctor and Syrian refugee who fled to Canada and was granted a second chance to practice Emergency Medicine at York Memorial Hospital in Toronto. In advance of the Season 2 premiere, viewers can catch-up on Season 1 on CTV.ca and the CTV app.
Season 2 of TRANSPLANT picks up almost immediately where Season 1 left off, with Bash (Haq) and his fellow residents reeling after their Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah, MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.), suffered a stroke. With everything at the hospital destabilized, the place Bash was starting to consider home suddenly feels precarious. As the team adjusts to new colleagues while dealing with the challenges of life, unexpected faces from the past leave Bash questioning what his ‘transplant’ into this new world really means. Bash’s hard work, compassion, and hopefulness tell a universal story about the human ability to not only survive, but ultimately thrive, when our lives suddenly change course.
Joining Season 2 in recurring roles are Gord Rand (CHAPELWAITE, ORPHAN BLACK) as Dr. Mark Novak, and Nora Guerch (TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN, Zoe) as a woman from Bash’s past who was reunited with him at the end of Season 1. Also appearing in Season 2 is TRANSPLANT cultural consultant and internationally produced playwright and actor Ahmad Meree, who plays a character with a gripping, defining role in Bash’s past.
Returning cast starring alongside Haq are Laurence Leboeuf (19-2) as Dr. Magalie “Mags” Leblanc; Hannah as Dr. Jed Bishop; Ayisha Issa (Polar) as Dr. June Curtis; and Jim Watson (DESIGNATED SURVIVOR) as Dr. Theo Hunter. Also back for Season 2 are Sirena Gulamgaus (ORPHAN BLACK) as Amira Hamed; Torri Higginson (DARK MATTER, THIS LIFE) as Claire Malone; Linda Smith (19-2) as Dr. Wendy Atwater; Kenny Wong (PRETTY HARD CASES) as Arnold De Luca; and Sugith Varughese (KIM’S CONVENIENCE) as Dr. Aajay Singh.
Resonating with audiences across the country, TRANSPLANT was the biggest new Canadian drama since 2015, becoming the most-watched Canadian series among total viewers, with an average audience of 1.4 million during the 2019-20 broadcast season. Following the success of the first season in Canada, the series has been embraced by U.S. viewers on NBC and across multiple territories including the UK, Australia, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands. The critically acclaimed series also garnered six Canadian Screen Award nominations and four wins, including the coveted Best Drama Series, and Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Hamza Haq.
On the Season 2 premiere of TRANSPLANT, titled “Guardrail” (Monday, Jan. 3 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app), a bus full of kids crashes and sends the team racing. Bash’s (Haq) life is upended when he is reunited with a woman from his past. With Dr. Bishop (Hannah) still unconscious after his stroke, Mags (Leboeuf) struggles to find support in her mentor’s absence. Theo (Watson) faces repercussions from his family after taking a full-time job away from home, and June (Issa) has an important career decision to make. An encore of the Season 2 premiere airs Thursday, Jan. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.
Writers on Season 2 of TRANSPLANT include Joseph Kay, who is also Executive Producer and Showrunner, Adam Barken (EP), Stephanie Morgenstern (EP), Mark Ellis (EP), Rachel Langer (Co-EP), Julie Puckrin (Co-EP), Tamara Moulin, Anusree Roy, Sami Khan, and Carmine Pierre Dufour. Directors are Stefan Pleszczynski, who also serves as Executive Producer, Daniel Grou (PODZ), Chloé Robichaud, Bosedé Williams, and Kim Nguyen.
Cultural consultants on Season 2 of TRANSPLANT, providing valuable insight and feedback on scripts and character development, include Dr. Khaled Almilaji, Ahmad Meree, Manar Chabouk, Dr. Yusra Ahmad, Muzna Dureid, and Eli Shankji.
All distribution rights for TRANSPLANT are handled by NBCUniversal Global Distribution, with the series airing on NBC in the U.S. The series is produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, provincial and federal tax credits, SODEC, the Bell Fund, and the IPF’s Cogeco Television Production Fund.
TRANSPLANT is created by Joseph Kay who also serves as Executive Producer and Showrunner. For Sphere Media, Executive Producers are Bruno Dubé, Jocelyn Deschênes, Virginia Rankin, Josée Vallée, and Tara Woodbury.
Raising kids and lowering expectations: CTV welcomes the arrival of its new original comedy CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING, airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app, beginning Jan. 12. Created by Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winner Kurt Smeaton (SCHITT’S CREEK, KIM’S CONVENIENCE), CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING follows parents, Astrid (Meaghan Rath, BEING HUMAN) and James (Aaron Abrams, BLINDSPOT), as they raise their two young children in the city and struggle to hold on to their pre-kid life. Filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, Ont., the first season consists of eight half-hour episodes.
In CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING, Astrid and James struggle to maintain their sanity in the face of their young children. The series chronicles their war of identity – one conceded battle at a time – it illustrates the hilarious and varied ways kids can wreck happiness, annihilate goals and dreams, and re-invent lives. However, it also explores how sometimes, if parents are very lucky, their re-invented life is sort of okay, too. Nowhere near as good as that old, really great life. But still kinda nice.
CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING stars Meaghan Rath as Astrid, a busy mom who does not care about being perfect or following so-called parenting trends by mommy bloggers; Aaron Abrams as James, a dad who is a mild perfectionist and pressures himself to be a great father – but still misses the freedom, spontaneity, and fun from his life before kids; and introducing Logan Nicholson (BLUES CLUES AND YOU) and Mikayla SwamiNathan as Felix and Viv – James and Astrid’s adorable seven-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, who are sucking the life out of their parents, one tantrum at a time.
Joining the cast in supporting roles are Ennis Esmer (BLINDSPOT, SCHITT’S CREEK) as James’ best friend and colleague, Ennis; Nazneen Contractor (RANSOM, HEROES REBORN) as Astrid’s successful and mildly pretentious older sister Dawn; Dmitry Chepovetsky (KILLJOYS, DEPARTURE) as Bo – Dawn’s husband and a maternal, earthy, loving dork; Darius Rota as Dawn and Bo’s brazen 10-year-old son Corey; Veena Sood (CORNER GAS ANIMATED, THE INDIAN DETECTIVE) as Astrid and Dawn’s recently retired mother Nisha; and Lisa Codrington (LETTERKENNY, ANNE WITH AN E) as James and Ennis’ cunning, fiercely competitive, and ruthless boss who believes children are career killers. This season also features guest appearances by Seán Cullen (WORKIN’ MOMS) and Anna Hopkins (THE EXPANSE).
On the series premiere of CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING, “Meals” (Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app), after four years of being a stay-at-home mom, Astrid (Rath) is ready to return to work. She and James (Abrams) decide to mark the occasion with a celebratory dinner with the kids. However, getting Felix (Nicholson) and Viv (SwamiNathan) to cooperate at the dinner table is a struggle, leading to a disastrous (and dangerous) dinner. Meanwhile, as James and Astrid prepare for more money, more date nights, and less diapers, Astrid comes to terms with the truth: she wants another baby.
Exclusive videos are available throughout the season on CTV.ca and the CTV app, providing viewers with an extension of the series with bonus digital content that includes behind-the-scenes videos and more.
As previously announced, CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING joins the Roku Originals programming slate on The Roku Channel in the U.S. in 2022.
The series is from award-winning New Metric Media and is created and executive produced by Golden Globe® and Emmy® Award-winner Kurt Smeaton (SCHITT’S CREEK), and executive produced by one of television’s premier comedy writers Chuck Tatham (MODERN FAMILY, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT), multiple Canadian Screen Award-winner Mark Montefiore (LETTERKENNY, WHAT WOULD SAL DO?), and Meaghan Rath, with Beth Iley (KILLJOYS) serving as producer. Renuka Jeyapalan (KIM’S CONVENIENCE, GINNY & GEORGIA) and Melanie Orr (THE PARKER ANDERSONS, THE HARDY BOYS) direct the series.
Bell Media Distribution is the international rights holder for CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING, and New Metric Media is the series’ exclusive Sales Agent. The series is produced by New Metric Media in association with CTV, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund and Bell Fund.
Now that the world has returned to some sort of order—at least, as much as it can—many of us will face that all too familiar dread surrounding the holidays: the Christmas meal.
A too-dry turkey, gluey mashed potatoes (of which I have been guilty) and watery pumpkin pie are just three of many mishaps that can occur when folks congregate during the holidays.
But Mary Berg has got your (and my) back this year.
Debuting Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CTV Life Channel with a special episode of Mary Makes it Easy called “Mary Makes it Merry,” the MasterChef Canada winner, cookbook author, celebrity chef and culinary coach aptly guides you through an easy as pie (see what I did there) bunch of recipes designed to keep you organized when family descends.
“It breaks my heart to hear that the worst part of the holidays for a lot of people is making the holiday meal. By the time you shop for the food and make the standard feast you’ve spent so long prepping, it’s no wonder you’re overwhelmed,” Mary says in a media release promoting the instalment. “With my shortcuts and time-saving strategies, I’m going to make the holidays so easy.”
It all kicks off with perhaps the easiest bread dish I’ve ever seen. I’ve struggled with making cinnamon buns in the past, eventually giving up and buying them from bakers. No more, thanks to Mary’s Cinnamon Roll Bread, which looks so simple even I could master it. The same goes for the Stuffed Turkey Roulade she tackles as the main dish. Once Mary completes a couple of sides, including dead easy cranberry sauce, I was convinced. I can, and will, do all of that for my family and more, over the holidays.
Mary Makes it Easy, “Mary Makes it Merry,” airs Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CTV Life Channel.