DHX Television’s Family Channel and Aircraft Pictures in association with American Greetings Entertainment announced today that principal photography has begun on its Holly Hobbie™ live-action series. The contemporary new tween drama, based on the American Greetings character first introduced in 1967, is being filmed in Toronto and Hamilton this month. The series makes its debut with 10 episodes in the US exclusively on Hulu this fall, followed by its Canadian debut on Family Channel. Universal Kids (US) has also purchased the linear rights for the series following its first window run on Hulu.
A dreamer and a doer, Holly Hobbie has lived her whole life in the small town of Collinsville. Holly’s a 13-year-old singer-songwriter who’s got her best friends and close-knit family by her side, but she’s dreaming of ways to save the world – even if it’s starting in her own backyard.
Cast for Holly Hobbiefeatures newcomers and notable stars including: Ruby Jay (Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy) as Holly Hobbie; Saara Chaudry (The Breadwinner, Max & Shred) as Amy Abbasi; Kamaia Fairburn (Star Falls, Odd Squad) as Piper Parish; Hunter Dillon (The Exorcist, Supernatural) as Tyler Flaherty; Charles Vandervaart (The Stanley Dynamic, Murdoch Mysteries) as Robbie Hobbie; Kate Moyer (Our House, IT) as Heather Hobbie; Erin Karpluk (Saving Hope, Being Erica) as Mrs. Hobbie; Evan Buliung (Reign, Bitten) as Mr. Hobbie; and Sara Botsford (Ride, The Lot) as Holly’s grandma, Helen Hobbie.
Holly Hobbieis produced by Aircraft Pictures, with the financial participation of the Shaw Rocket Fund. Anthony Leo and Andrew Rosen(The Breadwinner, Bruno & Boots: This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall) serve as producers. Karen Vermeulen, Ryan Wiesbrock and Sean Gorman of American Greetings Entertainment (Tinpo, Buddy Thunderstruck and Care Bears) and Matthew Wexler of Wexworks Media (D.N.Ace, Paw Patrol) are serving as executive producers alongside showrunner Sarah Glinski (Degrassi: Next Class, Degrassi: The Next Generation).
When I was in high school (oh so long ago), I viewed the new school year as starting over. The summer was spent hanging out with my closest friends, on family vacations and working. Every September was a new year with new classes and in most cases, new friends.
The same is true of the kids at the Keaton School of the Arts. They’re back for another school year in 30 new episodes of Backstage—airing next Monday to Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT on Family Channel—with plenty on their minds. For Vanessa (Devyn Nekoda) and Carly (Alyssa Trask), it’s owning up to pulling the fire alarm. For Bianca (Julia Tomasone) and Jax (Matthew Isen), it means reuniting after a summer he spent on tour with DJ Diamond Mine/Kit (Romy Weltman). And with seven new characters joining Keaton, this year promises to be a humdinger.
To sort it all out, we turned to Lara Azzopardi, Backstage‘s co-creator, showrunner, writer and director for help. She tells us what’s in store for some of your favourite characters, a peek at new ones and the injury that caused an entire rewrite of the Season 2 scripts a week before filming began.
Backstage is back for Season 2! A new season means a new year at school.
Lara Azzopardi: Yes, a new year. The students have all had a summer to get over and evolve during and they return with new problems and new drama. Lots and lots of drama at Keaton!
I always viewed the new fall school year as a clean slate. Is that the case for some of these kids?
One hundred per cent. We’ve got quite a few new characters. All of the emotional storylines carry through. For any viewers who watched the first 30 episodes, you will see a lot of carry over but we are starting fresh. New year, new characters. Old characters but with new problems. We’ve all been through high school so we all bring our problems and stories about it to [the writer’s room] and try to make it as grounded and real as we can.
You have several new characters this year, but does having a group return from Season 1 help you production-wise with filming 30 episodes? Have you all developed a shorthand to make production move more smoothly?
Definitely. Everyone had a rhythm and we were lucky enough to have all of our directors from Season 1 come back. Everyone knew what we were up against. The writing process for Backstage is that I like to have as many scripts finished before we start shooting as we can. We have a big readthrough of the first 15 episodes before we shoot them. We spend an entire day reading and the actors can ask questions. It’s great. However, a week before shooting, our lead broke her ankle. And, fictionally, Vanessa broke her ankle in Season 1 of Backstage. She broke her ankle a week before we started shooting and we had to rewrite everything. That was really fun. [Laughs.] We decided not to shy away from it and just go for it. It meant a lot of sleepless nights for the writers. We were writing as we were shooting.
The first episode begins with Vanessa and Carly. They were the first two characters we met in Season 1. Have you always viewed these two as the anchor for Backstage?
For me, it always started with Vanessa and Carly. Episode 1 in Season 1 is them meeting outside of Keaton and walking in together. Yeah, they are a bit of the anchor. I look at the storylines as streams and they are the anchors for those streams. However, I think that relationship between them is the heart of the show. As a female, going through that experience of high school and having a friend that you grow with and have your conflicts with and love with, that’s where I really share my experience.
Will Vanessa and Carly keep in touch 20 years down the road?
One hundred per cent. Their friendship as a love story is what I try to explore with Vanessa and Carly. I think for sure that they end up together as best friends, talking about their kids 20 years later.
Let’s discuss Jax and Bianca. He returns from a summer tour with Kit. What can you say about their relationship this season?
It’s a bit of a slow burn. It’s going to go up and down. There are some very exciting things that happen with the Jax, Bianca and Kit storyline.
Alya and Miles broke up last season. What’s the deal with them this time around?
Alya and Miles have been arced out through 30 episodes. We like the slow burn on Backstage and it’s ups and downs. I look at them as our OTP—our One True Pairing—and there is quite a journey for them this year.
There are several new characters this season. Can you tease a couple of them for me?
A theme of this season is family. We explore family in the 30 episodes. We try to go into these kids’ lives a little bit more. We have a brother duo in George and Aidan, who are going to be a part of the show. Beckett explores family as you will come to see. Our cast is so big it’s impossible to show every kind of kid on a TV show but we really did try to represent as many people as we grew up with through the show. We’ve got some bad guys this season. But even our bad guys are good guys … we try to figure out the good in the bad and why these kids act the way that they do.
Season 2 of Backstage airs next Monday to Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT on Family Channel. Backstage airs in its regular timeslot beginning Friday, March 23, at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT.
DHX Media (or the “Company”) (TSX: DHX.A, DHX.B; NASDAQ: DHXM), a leading global children’s content and brands company, and Nickelodeon are spreading mayhem worldwide with a new international broadcast agreement for season one of the original DHX Media series, Massive Monster Mayhem. Following the show’s successful premiere on Nicktoons in the U.S., Nickelodeon International has picked it up for air across more than 140 territories. Produced by DHX Media, Massive Monster Mayhem is co-created by Artur Spigel (founder of 7ate9 Entertainment) and Michael Chaves.
Massive Monster Mayhem is an original show for kids 6–11 that combines live action and CGI animation with real competition and comedy. Each episode features three real-life kid heroes competing in a gauntlet of Intergalactic Battle Alliance challenges to become Earth’s champion and face off against Master Mayhem’s league of monsters in the ultimate “Monster Mashdown.” The unique series combines cutting-edge, real-time CGI and pre-visualization technology.
Massive Monster Mayhem originally launched on Nicktoons in the U.S. in October 2017, garnering solid ratings among the network’s audience. As part of the new agreement, the mayhem will begin rolling out on Nickelodeon’s international channels beginning in 2018, with season one scheduled to premiere on the broadcaster’s Nordics, Australian and MENA channels in January. The series will roll out across remaining territories throughout the year.
Global distribution for Massive Monster Mayhem is handled by DHX Media, while licensing is managed by the company’s brand management and consumer products arm, DHX Brands. With its stunning visuals, which combine cutting-edge, real-time CGI and pre-visualization technology, and its host of exciting characters – like Master Mayhem, the self-proclaimed “Greatest Ruler in the Universe” – Massive Monster Mayhem offers significant appeal for young audiences and great potential for consumer products.
Produced by DHX Media, Massive Monster Mayhem is a brand-new concept in kids’ entertainment. Massive Monster Mayhem features live gameplay by kids in futuristic challenges against gigantic Monster Superstars for the chance to win prizes and save the planet from destruction. The series is executive produced by 7ate9’s Art Spigel, together with DHX Media’s Steven DeNure, Anne Loi, Ken Faier and Josh Scherba. The Massive Monster Mayhem Match App invaded the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store on October 2017 and was developed by Epic Story Interactive.
DHX Media Ltd., the Halifax-based children’s content producer, said it is launching a search for strategic alternatives, which could mean a sale of all or part of the company, a merger or some other arrangement aimed at boosting value for shareholders. Continue reading.
Get ready for a season filled with friendly rivalries and fierce competition with the return of Family Channel’s hit series The Next Step. Debuting Friday, May 26 at 4:30 p.m. ET/PT, season five represents a new chapter for the studio as the dancers are divided into two separate teams, led by fan-favourites Victoria Baldesarra (Michelle) and Alexandra Beaton (Emily). Fans who can’t wait for the new season to begin, can check out the new short series The Next Step: The Off Season, on The Family Channel App, to find out what A-Troupe has been up to since their Regionals loss. Following the premiere, new episodes of The Next Step will air regularly Fridays at 4:30 p.m. ET/PT with encore presentations at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Season five of The Next Step brings about a lot of changes for the studio. Since losing at Regionals, A-Troupe is once again the underdog, but that won’t deter them from getting back to the top. As many dancers leave to pursue their goals and dreams, former dance captain Emily (Beaton) steps in to take control of the studio. But her strict regime isn’t welcomed by everyone and the studio quickly divides into two: Emily’s classically trained dancers, and the self-trained/hip-hop crew led by veteran Michelle (Baldesarra). In the end, only one team can make it to Regionals and it’s a full out battle between East vs. West.
New dancers joining the cast for season five include: Dylan Ratzlaff as Jacquie; Jessica Lord as Lola; Milaina Robinson as Zara; Julian Lombardi as Ozzy; Hanna Miller as Heather; Noah Zulfikar as Kingston; Dawson Handy as Josh; and Julian Elia as Elliot. In addition to Beaton and Baldesarra, returning familiar faces include: Myles Erlick as Noah; Briar Nolet as Richelle; Alexandra Chaves as Piper; Isaiah Peck as Henry; Shelby Bain as Amy; Brennan Clost as Daniel; Lamar Johnson as West; and Akiel Julien as LaTroy. Fan-favourites Brittany Raymond (Riley), Trevor Tordjman (James), Taveeta Szymanowicz (Thalia) and Isaac Lupien (Eldon) will make guest appearances throughout the season.
The Next Step is produced by Radical Sheep Productions, a division of Boat Rocker Studios in association with Family Channel and is executive produced by Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier (Lost & Found Music Studios, Wingin’ It); Michelle Melanson Cuperus (The Bagel and Becky Show, Fangbone!); Rachael Schaefer (The Next Step, Wingin’ It) and Karen McClellan (The Other Kingdom, Being Erica). The Next Step was created by Frank van Keeken. The Next Step is also produced with the participation of the Shaw Rocket Fund, the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and CBBC. BBC Worldwide handles the international rights to the series.