Tag Archives: Emma Hunter

The Beaverton skewers Canada’s federal election in a new CTV special

The politicians are on the campaign trail, struggling mightily to win your vote. That means long days and nights, crisscrossing the country. It’s an ambitious and deeply tiring schedule. Equally exhausting? Covering it.

That’s what the folks at The Beaverton aim to do. Airing Friday at 8 p.m. ET on CTV, the one-hour special The Beaverton Mocks the Vote puts the federal political leaders in their crosshairs as co-anchors Emma Hunter and Miguel Rivas skewer every step the political parties have taken since the election was called.

We spoke to the pair about what viewers can expect when they tune in to The Beaverton Mocks the Vote.

How much planning has been going into this? Is this a typical writer’s room where you are getting together on the week and figuring stuff out as you work towards the 18th?
Emma Hunter: We are preparing the skeletal outlines for what things could be with a couple of variations, depending on if it goes right or left. We always think we prepare ourselves to have a full, calm day on set and it is always a madhouse. [Co-creator] Luke Gordon Field hasn’t showered, [co-creator] Jeff Detsky is sweaty, somebody’s throwing a muffin and there are a hundred coffees. It’s just chaos in the best way. So I think it will be that. I anticipate that the two days before the taping will just be absolute chaos, but it’s sort of a sick, pleasurable chaos.

Miguel Rivas: We can only write the most relevant stuff as the election is approaching. We’ve already been together for weeks, full time just starting to write other pieces and stuff because it’s going to be a full hour. We’re going to explore lots of elements of the election. So it’s not all necessarily timely related to news that breaks. There are bigger stories that we can dive into in the timeframe.

Anything that you can talk about? 
MR: We’re really excited about what’s going to frame the election and that we’ve already had something big break. The brownface scandal is obviously ongoing, unfortunately, due to Trudeau’s comments and the nature of the fact that it’s time to discuss the harmfulness of brownface and blackface again. That’s the nature of race and immigration and obviously all the candidates mainly from the Conservatives, but also from the Liberals and NDP who’ve been exposed for having said other racist stuff in the past on Twitter. So, we’re taking a huge look at how we identify as Canadians and how it relates to race and stuff.

This election campaign has seemed to be a lot more mean-spirited than in the past. Do you attribute that to what’s going on in the States? 
MR: Yeah, for sure. I think everything we do is affected by the U.S., but the global climate, in general, is one of harshness, shall we say. And yeah, I do think that there’s a tenor that comes with that and I think elections are kind of being redefined in people’s minds what they mean. And personal figures have always been important, but they seem to become so much more important. The symbolic member of the party, Justin Trudeau, Scheer, Trump, whoever, and the cult of personality that builds up around them … I think the nature of that starts to lean into personal attacks rather than discussions of policy. I think many people, if not most people, would consider the biggest issue facing Canada in the world is climate change. And every party has now sort of waded into the waters of talking about climate change, but it still feels like secondary or even third or fourth or fifth in line to issues of is this guy a racist or is that person nice to me?

EH: It’s exhausting and it’s disappointing and I think this brownface thing just left everybody with just this sort of exhalation of like, ‘Really? Really?‘ And I think the way everybody handled it was to be expected, trying to capitalize on it and use it and it was such an easy thing to do. Of course, they would. So it’s just cutthroat out there. It is such a specific thing to want to do with your life, to put every moment that’s potentially vulnerable out there for the rest of the parties to feed on. I have no idea why they do it. I hope the motivation is to make change for a better world, but something inside tells me it’s usually more than that.

The Beaverton Mocks the Vote airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.

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Preview: Mr. D clocks in for his final year

I remember the first few seasons of Mr. D well. Debuting in 2012 just as the U.S version of The Office was winding down, the CBC sitcom revelled in the uncomfortable and cringe-worthy. Every scene centring on mediocre teacher-coach Gerry Duncan (Gerry Dee) was an exercise in wincing. What would he say to embarrass himself? What would he do to make my stomach turn into nervous knots?

But over the last seven seasons, the award-winning show has evolved. Yes, Gerry is still putting his foot in his mouth, but the characters around him have grown to take on the comedy lifting and inject a ton of heart into the show as well. I credit that maturation to co-creators Dee and Mike Volpe, the show’s writers and cast for allowing the show to grow and breathe and become what it is today: a funny, heartfelt family comedy.

Now it’s coming to an end. Season 8 kicks off Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC with two back-to-back episodes. The first, “Big in Japan,” picks up right where the Season 7 finale left off: Gerry boarding a flight to Japan after an investigative report labelled him the “Nation’s Worst Teacher.” Hoping for a fresh start, Gerry decides (with Bill’s help) that being an ESL teacher in Japan would be best.

But hold on. Turns out firing Gerry would admit the exposé was all true. Instead, Robert (Jonathan Torrens) is instructed to hire Gerry back and claim the report was, you guessed it, fake news. While Robert is trying to do that, things at Xavier Academy are in a bit of a disarray. Lisa (Lauren Hammersley) is doing some investigating of her own and it appears new phys ed. teacher/librarian Emma Terdie (Kathleen Phillips) is making outrageous claims of her own. Mr. D has boasted a brilliant use of music as part of its storytelling; it’s used to great effect in Wednesday’s first episode as Gerry teaches two children English while Alphaville’s “Big in Japan” plays. And, by the end of the episode, a curveball is thrown that appears to affect the tone and direction this final season will take.

Tune in and enjoy Mr. D‘s final ride. I certainly will.

Mr. D airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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Emma Hunter and Jonny Harris to host 2018 Canadian Screen Awards

From a media release:

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) and CBC today announced that Jonny Harris of CBC’s Still Standing and Murdoch Mysteries and Emma Hunter of The Comedy Network’s The Beaverton and CBC’s Mr. D, will co-host the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards Broadcast Gala live on CBC on Sunday, March 11, 2018. The Canadian Academy also announced hosts for the three non-broadcast Canadian Screen Awards Galas and Family Fan Day.

The Canadian Academy and CBC also announced their new production partner for the Broadcast Gala: Insight Production Company. This year marks the inaugural year the Canadian Academy will work with the award-winning content producers to deliver one of the country’s biggest award shows. As part of the new partnership, Insight Productions is taking on the task of bringing the “Golden Era of Entertainment” to the Canadian Screen Awards stage.

Also taking on hosting duties during Canadian Screen Week this year are five very talented Canadian stars who will each bring their own flare and personality to the stage at the three non-broadcast Galas during Canadian Screen Week.

  • Canadian Screen Award nominee and co-anchor of The Comedy Network’s The Beaverton, Miguel Rivas, will host the Gala Honouring Excellence in Non-Fiction Programming Sponsored by Boat Rocker Media and Eagle Vision (March 6, 2018);
  • Award-winning actor and improv dynamo Andrew Phung, of CBC’s Kim Convenience, will host the Gala Honouring Excellence in Creative Fiction Storytelling Sponsored by Technicolor and Thunderbird Entertainment (March 7, 2018); and
  • Mind Fudge’s Jon Simonassi and Justine Nelson will serve as “virtual hosts” through the creation of content for the Gala Honouring Excellence in Digital and Immersive Storytelling Supported by the Independent Production Fund (March 8, 2018).

The three off-air Galas will be produced by e=mc2 events who are working with the Canadian Academy for the first time this year.

Additionally, ET Canada’s Carlos Bustamante will host Family Fan Day, presented by the Canadian Academy and the Shaw Rocket Fund, and supported by City of Toronto at the Sony Centre of Performing Arts on March 10, 2018, which coincides with the beginning of March Break in Toronto.

 

[themoneytizer id=”12602-28″]

 

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CBC’s anthology web series Save Me is instantly bingeworthy

It’s easy to tell when a television network is truly behind one of their projects. Clearly, CBC is fully supporting Save Me. How could I tell? A half-day of interviews for show creator, writer and director Fab Filippo and producer Lisa Baylin, and a Facebook Live session for the duo plus actors Amy Matysio, Emma Hunter and Suresh John, who co-star in some of the show’s 10 episodes.

Save Me is a web series, but it’s getting the same attention from the network Still Standing or Baroness Von Sketch Show would. There’s a reason: Save Me is damned good.

Now available on CBC’s website, Save Me follows Toronto EMT Goldie (Filippo) and his assorted partners (Matysio and John are two), as they arrive on the scene of 911 calls. The twist? The paramedics are the through line connecting the people making an emergency call rather than being the focus. That’s not to say we don’t get some back story into Goldie and his fellow EMTs lives—we do—but they’re not the focus.

“Lisa called me and said, ‘Do you have anything?'” Filippo recalls during a chat at CBC’s Toronto headquarters. “It wasn’t on HBO yet, but I had been watching High Maintenance and it had the structure of it wasn’t about the pot dealer, it was about the people who bought the pot. I loved that structure because it was an anthology but had the groundedness of wanting to tune in and see the same person every week.” The former Being Erica and Billable Hours actor has a friend—nicknamed Meeps—who is an EMT and Filippo thought that career could fit into a structure like High Maintenance. Baylin agreed. Filippo went on a ridealong with Meeps, made some notes, and bounced ideas around with Baylin. A year and half later and Save Me is online.

A shot from Episode 3 of Save Me, “Possible Anaphylaxis.”

“We produce a variety of shows and are known as trailblazers because we’re always testing different models in the digital space,” Baylin, vice-president of content and production for iThentic, says. “I really wanted to do an anthology series and was looking for the right story. When Fab mentioned the paramedics, we thought it had a very natural feel for an anthology show. We could have these great emergencies and opportunities to stunt cast.” Baylin describes fleshing out the stories of people from all walks of life across Toronto, crafting the characters and approaching actors to participate in one or two shoot days for a four to 10-minute episode.

Save Me‘s guest cast is a 46-person who’s who from the television and theatre world. Brent Carver, Michael Healey, Paul Braunstein, Jean Yoon, Sonja Smits, John Bourgeois, Tony Nappo, Mayko Nguyen and Sugith Varughese are just a sampling of the talent who drop by to play instantly memorable characters. A sample: Emma Hunter portrays Cora, a woman in Episode 1, “H.B.D.,” who grows increasing drunk at a birthday brunch and then suffers a grievously hilarious injury. But for every funny moment—and there are many like “Possible Anaphylaxis”—Save Me offers thoughtfulness and hope too; scenes between Goldie and Kevlar (Matysio) are downright romantic.

“The biggest challenge was the time constraint,” Filippo says. “Mixing the genres wasn’t tough for me because that’s what I love the stuff that’s dark and makes me laugh. I was studying short form content because I didn’t want this to be a slice of life where it ends and you don’t get resolution. I wanted to build each moment so, at the end, you went, ‘OK, I just watched a story.'”

Season 1 of Save Me is available on CBC’s website.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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The Beaverton website heads to The Comedy Network for TV

Regardless of who the next President of the United States is, The Beaverton has got it covered. The televised adaptation of the satirical website The Beaverton debuts Wednesday night on The Comedy Network with two possible lead stories. In one? The end of the world. The other? Bill Clinton is the First Husband. [Update: Armageddon it is.]

We were one of the over 100 sitting in the audience watching The Beaverton record its second-to-last Season 1 episode last week and it made for a fun night. Each of the 13 episodes finds anchors Emma Hunter (Mr. D) and Miguel Rivas (Meet the Family) and correspondents in news reporter Aisha Alfa, provocateur Donavon Stinson, financial correspondent Laura Cilevitz and foreign correspondent Marilla Wex skewering world topics.

Co-created by Luke Gordon Field and Jeff Detsky as well as website editors Jacob Duarte Spiel and Alexander Saxton, Pier 21’s Lazlo Barna and Melissa Williamson are executive producers.

“TV was always the dream,” Field says of creating an offshoot of the website for television. “I grew up on satirical television shows like The Daily Show … they were always my favourite shows. When I started writing political satire comedy, it was always in the back of my mind that it would be fun to create a TV show. I didn’t know that The Beaverton was ever going to have that opportunity and wasn’t working towards it. We were just building our name.”

Enter Detsky (Orphan Black), who noticed his Facebook friends were posting Beaverton stories on their news feeds. He immediately recognized the unique voice the site had and its reach (more than six million views in 2016) and knew it was a natural transition to television. Production on Season 1 happened in a nondescript warehouse shared by a church and the upcoming Top Chef Canada All-Stars, with Field, Detsky and 16 writers—most recently Kurt Smeaton, Scott Montgomery and Rupinder Gill—creating, doing table reads, punching up scripts and filming external bits in the week leading up to Thursday night tapings and production that has been rolling since late spring.

This is not The Daily Show. The Beaverton isn’t reacting to what happened in America, Canada or globally the day before. That, Field says, forces them to create original content not necessarily based on a headline. That frees the team up to cover stories that are always on the peripheral, like the Loonie, at a 20-year low, being swapped out in favour of Canadian Tire money.

And while Hunter and Rivas have extensive experience in sketch comedy writing, neither contribute to The Beaverton room. Instead, they’ve focused on delivering the stories and creating their on-screen personas. Rivas is buttoned-up and stiff, so unlike his actual personality, and Hunter is arrogant and braggy, totally opposite her self-deprecating humour when cameras aren’t rolling.

“We both approached it as, ‘What would make the best dynamic behind the desk and what’s original?'” Hunter explains. “Stereotypically, the story is the guy is a goof and super-funny and the girl checks him. This organic thing happened [between us] from the audition where we had this wonderful rhythm of give and take of being the straight man or having a moment and the characters evolved from there.”

“As a man, I agree with everything she just said,” Rivas says with a laugh.

The Beaverton airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on The Comedy Network.

Image via Bell Media.

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