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Heartland Season 15 begins production in Alberta

From a media release:

CBC’s original family drama HEARTLAND began filming Season 15 in Alberta yesterday. Produced by Dynamo Films and SEVEN24 Films, Season 15 will premiere on Sunday, October 17 at 7PM (7:30PM NL) on CBC and CBC Gem. HEARTLAND is the longest-running one-hour drama in Canadian television history, and the first episode of Season 15 will celebrate the 225th episode of the series.

Following the dramatic and emotional fourteenth season, the Bartlett-Fleming family learned a hard lesson: life is short and you have to live each day to the fullest. In Season 15 of HEARTLAND, they will put what they learned into practice. Last season, Amy said goodbye to the past. This season, she embraces the future – raising her daughter, working with the horses who continue to heal her, branching out into a new phase of her life and profession. She is moving forward and feels determined to leave a legacy. In fact, Jack, Lisa, Lou and Tim have all decided that now is not the time to pull back, but to ramp up, to create new dreams and fulfill old ones. And, as they always do, the family will pull together to help each other…and will ultimately end up stronger than ever.

HEARTLAND is a multi-generational family drama that is much loved by fans of all ages, not only in Canada, but all around the world. CBC’s HEARTLAND shares homegrown Canadian content portraying everyday family life on an Alberta ranch. HEARTLAND can be viewed on Netflix globally, as well as UPtv Faith & Family and Hulu in the United States. HEARTLAND has made its way into the hearts of families in more than 119 countries.

Filming locations for Season 15 include Calgary, High River, Millarville, and Longview in Alberta, Canada.

HEARTLAND is based on the bestselling series of books by Lauren Brooke. The executive producers are Michael Weinberg, Tom Cox, Jordy Randall, and Heather Conkie who also serves as the showrunner. The series is produced by Dean Bennett. The series writers are Heather Conkie, Mark Haroun, Ken Craw, and Alexandra Clarke. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports ; Trish Williams is Executive Director, Scripted Content; Sarah Adams is Director, Current Production, Drama; and Mehernaz Lentin is Executive in Charge of Production. A CBC original series, HEARTLAND is produced by Dynamo Films and SEVEN24 Films with the financial participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Government of Alberta, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, and the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit.

eOne is the international distributor of the series.

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Burden of Truth: Kristin Kreuk breaks down Joanna’s Season 4 struggles

Burden of Truth could have ended after last season. The Season 3 finale wrapped up the legal show-turned-family drama’s storylines in a neat bow, with lead character Joanna Chang, played by Kristin Kreuk, completing her metamorphosis from emotionally damaged corporate lawyer to self-aware justice seeker and mom-to-be.

But just like after the show’s first season—which so efficiently resolved its legal-heavy environmental plot that it looked like it had nowhere left to go—it found a way forward by digging deeper into its characters.

“This year, we thought the only way to really do another season is to take it all away from Joanna and see what happens,” says Kreuk, who is also an executive producer on the series.

And in the Season 4 premiere, airing Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC, Joanna is clearly struggling. She and Billy (Peter Mooney) are trying to find their footing as new parents while waging a legal battle against a powerful mine company that wants to reopen an old gold mine outside of Millwood.

“[Joanna] and Billy are really trying to parent without any support,” says Kreuk. “They’re just doing it on their own in a vacuum while both of them are working.”

The situation is made worse by the mine’s ruthless legal team—who use the same aggressive tactics that Joanna did when she was a corporate lawyer.

“She sees this mining company come in with predatory behaviour that she was part of in her past,” Kreuk explains. “So she’s trying to defeat her shadow self.”

We recently caught up with Kreuk and asked her to break down Season 4’s biggest storylines and explain what it was like to film during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect production this year?
Kristin Kreuk: We got kind of a late pickup for the show this year due in part to, in March, nobody knew what was going on or what would happen or how quickly the pandemic would resolve itself. Then we started shooting later than we normally would for our show. We didn’t start shooting until basically the end of August.

In Winnipeg and Manitoba at that time, they had very few cases, they hardly had a first wave. And so for a while there, it looked like we may be able to skate by a little bit. But even from then, before we even got on a plane, we got tested. We tested the minute we arrived. On set, everybody was wearing masks and shields, everyone was kind of placed in pods. People had to step away from set to eat, and there were hand-washing and hand sanitising stations. We worked shorter work days so people could get more rest, so they didn’t get tired and their immune systems didn’t weaken.

So a lot changed, and it was a very different season of television. And Winnipeg’s cases started to go up quite a bit in the fall, and they were the worst in Canada for a while, so towards the end, we got worried. But it always felt safe because of all the precautions. In many ways, I felt safer on set than I did anywhere else.

Were there any story changes because of the pandemic?
KK: Yes, totally. One of the main things was ensuring that we didn’t have very many background performers, so we didn’t do courtroom scenes really. We used to have big courtroom set-pieces at the end of every season, and we didn’t do that this year. We had to change it up.

Season 3 ended on a very positive note for Joanna, but as this season begins, she’s having some problems adjusting to motherhood and also finding it hard to be on the less powerful side of a corporate case. What can you hint about her journey this season?
KK: Joanna and Billy, when we left them last season, were probably in the happiest place they’ve ever been. The pregnancy wasn’t too hard for Joanna, she was able to work, they were doing very well, and she had kind of healed a bunch of her stuff. At the top of this season, the reality is sinking in more for them, and Joanna’s really struggled. She’s feeling the pressures of what motherhood should be and feeling all of the narratives that have been put on motherhood, and they weigh on her.

And then there’s the fact that the job she does is so dangerous in many ways because she’s taking on the underdogs in cases. It’s something that the other mothers that she’s meeting aren’t able to comprehend. So she’s kind of in this place of doubt.

As you said, Joanna and Billy were in a very happy place at the end of last season, but being a new parent is hard. How are they going to handle that?
KK: What I love about Joanna and Billy is that they love each other, that’s not a question. But this year, you’ll see the differences in what makes them feel secure and safe. For Joanna, it has to do with her ability to do the things she’s best at, particularly because she feels like she’s failing at being a mom, which is debatable. If you just look at what she’s doing, she’s not, but she really feels like she is. She feels most secure through being able to be great at her job.

Billy’s sense of security also comes through Joanna being great at her job, but he also wants a more traditional life. And I think those two things butt up against each other because that’s not what Joanna wants or needs, but that is what he wants and needs. So we kind of see that unfold between the two of them, particularly because Joanna’s choosing, similar to last year, a case that isn’t helping them to make money for their firm.

Two recurring themes I’ve noticed are finding the meaning of home and finding your identity after trauma, and it looks like Season 4 will continue that trend. Was it always the show’s intention to explore those themes?
KK: We are aware of what you’re talking about, but I think that when we started the show, we only understood one small aspect of what that meant—at least, I don’t know if this was [series creator] Brad [Simpson]’s scheme all along. I think that we were really focused on Joanna’s own trauma, and we weren’t looking at it as completely, but each season we’ve delved deeper and deeper into that.

A manifestation of that through Taylor [Anwen O’Driscoll] this season is her trying—and her storyline is so beautiful this year—to find her place in a town that she thought she’d never come back to, that’s a representation of her horrible relationship with her father and her loss of a future she saw for herself, of having to like reacquaint herself with her dreams and her place on that land. This season is very much about kind of repositioning yourself on your land and in your home and how you can do that while incorporating the trauma of your past into that without forgetting it.

I thought Owen Beckbie’s fight against racism in the police department was a very interesting storyline last season, and Meegwun Fairbrother did a great job with it. What will happen with Beckbie this season?
KK: [Meegwun] wrote half a script this year, so he’s been a big part of the season. Beckbie’s in an interesting place where he’s finding himself in a position of power, and he thought maybe, as an Indigenous man in a position of power, could change things. But he’s realizing through being on the ground that that isn’t true, that the system is the system. And so this season is sort of about him evaluating his place in that system and how he can create the changes he wants. You see that through the cop aspect of [the story] and also through this kid, played by Skye Pelletier, who he sort of takes on. His relationship with Beckbie is a big part of the season.

Burden of Truth hasn’t been afraid to hold up a mirror to some of the darker aspects of Canada’s history, particularly its treatment of Indigenous communities. Have you gotten a lot of positive feedback about that?
KK: Honestly, I think people are mostly really excited that we’re delving into those stories. Some people have told me that they’re actually learning from the show, which is kind of sad because our education system should be doing that. But it’s also great that we can do that because I have always believed that one of the powers of scripted television or feature films is that you fall in love with people, with characters and then you can develop empathy for them in a way that you feel more connected to. So feedback wise, people have said that to me, people really appreciate it. But I’ve also seen some really negative stuff about how we’re super white-hating, which is clearly also not true.

Did you have a favourite episode or storyline this season?
KK: It’s hard to say because it’s such a serialized show, but there are images that have stuck in my head as I’ve watched them through all the edits. There’s a moment with Beckbie, he has a scene with Crystal [Michaela Washburn], who we briefly saw in Season 3. She’s a criminal and he is a cop, and they’re both Indigenous and they have an all-out, intense discussion. It’s a very good scene, and there’s a small moment that follows that I find really moving, where Beckbie is kind of facing his cop self.

There’s stuff with Luna [Star Slade] that’s really powerful this year as she tries to decide what path she wants to take for her career, whether she wants to focus on legal aid, or if she wants to sort of go in the direction that Joanna went, and she has to decide what will make more of an impact based on what she wants to do with her life.

And there’s stuff with Billy and Joanna as they manage being parents that I find really beautiful. They come to an understanding with each other and they have therapy scenes, which I think are also really interesting. There are a lot of things to look forward to from all these characters.

Burden of Truth airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: Private Eyes eyes big names for Season 4

Like with everything else, there’s been a lot of uncertainty surrounding network television, from when a series is premiering or returning, if at all.

Well, Private Eyes fans, fear not. Matt (Jason Priestley) and Angie (Cindy Sampson) are back and in fine form—Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global—so much so that if you close your eyes, things almost seem normal again.

Fresh off its Golden Screen Award win for Canada’s most-watched comedy or drama, your favourite detective duo is on the case for a fourth season. Also fresh? Angie’s new haircut. Just saying.

Monday’s premiere picks up pretty much where it left off, with Shade grappling with that paternity bombshell. A half-sister for Jules, played by the always awesome Jordyn Negri, not to mention being a grandfather for the second time for Barry Flatman’s wary Don? Sure! Angie, of course, wants to help (a.k.a. stick her nose in where it doesn’t really belong) but it’s what she does best. Thankfully, for everyone, a case becomes the distraction Matt and Angie need. This time, it’s a murder mystery, complete with the paranoid claims of a wealthy, ailing patriarch, a power struggle over business and inheritance, a Great Gatsby-themed soirée, and a handful of suspects that will keep you guessing.

Back to that distraction, though. Sabrina (Katie Boland) simply wants to connect with her newfound dad—until things take a turn when guest star Erica Durance (Saving Hope) turns up. And if her appearance wasn’t enough, it gets even more complicated as Shade and Angie continue to cast not-so-subtle longing glances at one another—especially since Tex (Brett Donahue) is still in the picture.

Private Eyes has once again lined up a slew of Canadian favourites. Keshia Chanté and Supinder Wraich join in recurring roles, as Angie’s pal, Mia, and Danica’s girlfriend, Kate, respectively. And Aaron Ashmore (Killjoys), Stefan Brogen (Degrassi), and Eric Peterson (Corner Gas) guest-star.

But it’s the seventh episode that’ll have you reaching for the popcorn, thanks to appearances from Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, the prettiest star on HGTV Canada, Scott McGillivray, and golf pro Mike Weir. Priestley directs that star-studded hour, while Episode 3 marks Sampson’s directorial debut. It’s safe to say the rest of the season (and the upcoming fifth instalment) looks bright. Shade(s) optional.

Private Eyes airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global.

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Production begins on Season 4 of Burden of Truth

From a media release:

ICF Films, Eagle Vision, and eOne today announced that production is underway on Season 4 of CBC original drama series BURDEN OF TRUTH (8X60) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Following lawyer Joanna Chang, (Kristin Kreuk; SmallvilleBeauty and the Beast), BURDEN OF TRUTH began production in early September and is set to shoot until late fall. Seasons 1-3 of BURDEN OF TRUTH are available now on the free CBC Gem streaming service. BURDEN OF TRUTH is also broadcast on The CW in the U.S. and on additional networks around the world.

BURDEN OF TRUTH follows Joanna Chang, a ruthless, big-city lawyer who returns to her small hometown in Millwood for a case that will change her life forever. Each season centres around a new life-altering legal case – the vulnerable plaintiffs searching for answers and the boots-on-the-ground lawyers fighting incredible odds to deliver justice.

Reprising their roles for Season 4 are executive producer Kristin Kreuk as Joanna Chang; Peter Mooney (Rookie BlueSaving Hope) as Billy Crawford; Star Slade (Frontier, Emerald Code) as law student Luna Spence; Meegwun Fairbrother (Mohawk GirlsHemlock Grove) as Police Chief Owen Beckbie; and Anwen O’Driscoll (Emerald CodeFlint) as new Millwood police recruit, Officer Taylor Matheson. Additional returning cast members include local Winnipeg actors Eugene Baffoe (Ruthless SoulsOur Scene) as Officer Thorpe; Skye Pelletier (Taken, Indian Horse)) returning from Season 2 as Saulteaux teen, Kip Bellegarde; and lawyer Nevin Page returns from Season 2 and 3, played by Paul Essiembre (ChloeWarehouse 13).

This season also welcomes new additions Brynn Godenir (The Middles, Journey Back to Christmas) as Stevie Nichols, Luna’s new law-student girlfriend, and Cherissa Richards (A Dog’s JourneyThe Secret Ingredient) as Joanna’s new adversary, Elise Moore.

Season 4 welcomes a talented array of directors including Doug Mitchell (The Pinkertons, Less Than Kind), Kelly Makin (Flashpoint, Saving Hope), Michelle Latimer (Trickster, Rise), Madison Thomas (Taken, Colour of Scar Tissue), and 2nd Unit Director, Tyson Caron (Wynter, Lovesick).

Writers this season include Brad Simpson, Madison Thomas, Eric Putzer, Shannon Masters, Hayden Simpson, Felicia Brooker, and cast member, Meegwun Fairbrother joins the writers this season.

In Season 4, when a mining company reopens a dormant mine outside Millwood, Joanna and Billy, lawyers and new parents, step in to protect a local woman’s home from certain destruction. When the mine swiftly retaliates, Joanna is forced to confront a long-buried secret from her past and scramble to protect the future of her career and her family. As both sides prepare for war with the fate of Millwood at stake, Joanna and Billy must juggle their life with a newborn with waging a legal battle against a corporate titan. When they come across evidence the mine isn’t what it claims to be, Joanna seizes an opportunity to launch an unexpected legal battle that will bring the company to its knees.

A CBC original series, BURDEN OF TRUTH is produced by ICF Films, Eagle Vision, and eOne. The series is created by Brad Simpson (Rookie Blue, King), who is also an executive producer. Brad Simpson and Adam Pettle (Saving Hope, The Detail, Nurses) serve as co-showrunners and also write on Season 4. BURDEN OF TRUTH is executive produced by Ilana Frank (Nurses, Saving Hope), Linda Pope (Nurses, Saving Hope), Adam Pettle (Nurses, Saving Hope), Jocelyn Hamilton (CardinalMary Kills People), Eagle Vision’s Kyle Irving (Taken, Ice Road Truckers) and Kristin Kreuk (Beauty & The Beast, Smallville). Co-Executive producers are Lisa Meeches of Eagle Vision (Taken, Ice Road Truckers) and Tyson Caron (Lovesick, Wynter).

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CBC greenlights new original drama Feudal, created by Sheri Elwood

From a media release:

CBC today announced new original one-hour series FEUDAL (8×60, Six Eleven Media and eOne), created by Sheri Elwood (Call Me Fitz, Lucifer). FEUDAL tells the tale of the Finley-Cullens, a dysfunctional clan of adult half-siblings battling for control of their family business, The Moonshine, a ramshackle summer resort on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The series is produced by Halifax-based Six Eleven Media and eOne, and production is now underway on location in Nova Scotia for broadcast on CBC in 2021.

FEUDAL is an epic tale of lust, legacy and lobster, set against the backdrop of financial hardship, small town intrigue and a long-buried secret that threatens to annihilate the Finley-Cullens once and for all. Corrine Koslo (Anne with an E) and Peter MacNeill (This Life) play Bea and Ken Finley-Cullen, the heads of the family and owners of The Moonshine, their own little slice of paradise that is starting to become a nightmare – if only they could decide which of their flawed brood is fit to take over the business. 

Jennifer Finnigan (Salvation) plays Lidia, an architect and the eldest sibling who wants to redevelop and exploit the valuable coastal property, giving her an opportunity to shine and overcome past disappointments, and Anastasia Phillips (Reign) plays her often-overlooked younger sister Rhian, who sees The Moonshine as her own chance to shine. 

Other family members include Lidia’s sister Nora, the sexy local DJ, who knows all the family secrets and is played by Emma Hunter (Mr. D, Fridge Wars); Alexander Nunez (Avocado Toast) as Sammy, Lidia’s musically gifted adopted brother who holds secrets of his own; and Tom Stevens (Wayward Pines) as aging party boy Ryan, Rhian’s twin, who is running his own (illegal) business out of the resort. Allegra Fulton (The Shape of Water) plays Jill LeBlanc, an old family friend with some nefarious motives and secrets of her own. Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s) plays Daniel Bennett, Lidia’s husband and a star architect, suffering through his own mid-life crisis.

A CBC original series, FEUDAL is produced by Six Eleven Media and eOne. Created by Sheri Elwood, who is also showrunner, and executive producer alongside Six Eleven Media’s Charles Bishop. Jocelyn Hamilton serves as executive producer for eOne. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports; Trish Williams is Executive Director, Scripted Content; Helen Asimakis is Senior Director, Scripted Content; and Sarah Adams is Executive in Charge of Production. The series writers are Sheri Elwood, Matt MacLennan, Kate Spurgeon, and Josh Saltzman. The pilot is directed by Scott Smith with additional episodes directed by Smith, James Genn, and Sheri Elwood. The series is produced with the assistance of the Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund. Additionally, funding comes from the Canada Media Fund, Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit. eOne distributes the series internationally. 

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