Tag Archives: Featured

Slasher: Flesh & Blood’s Paula Brancati: “It’s very rare that you get to come back and work with people that you trust again and again”

If you’re a fan of the Slasher franchise, you’re already aware of the unique casting around it. There are, from season to season, a handful of actors who check in, usually playing very different characters from the seasons before. That’s certainly the case for Paula Brancati, who returns to Slasher: Flesh & Blood playing a very different role from Violet, the social media addict on Slasher: Solstice.

On Flesh & Blood, airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite, Brancati portrays Christy, who has married into the Galloway family, a group currently battling each other for the family fortune while dodging a killer called The Gentleman.

We spoke to Brancati, who is currently prepping her first project as a director with Junior’s Giant, written by Deb McGrath, about her experiences this season.

When Aaron Martin and Ian Carpenter reach out to you and say they’ve got you in mind for a new season of Slasher, are you all in no matter what?
Paula Brancati: Oh, yeah. It’s no question. I love them as people and as creators. And it generally starts with Aaron and Ian and I over a Bellini at Milestones, which is where we like to take our creative meetings. And they often lead with one of our more graphic scenes. They’ll tell me something wild that they’re thinking of for the character. So the pitches are always so colourful. And it’s a very easy yes for me.

It’s very rare that you get to come back and work with people that you trust again and again, who keep writing for you and continue to challenge you as an actor. Because I think, a lot of times, with the Slasher series, I get to come back and act in roles that I don’t think I necessarily would be auditioning for. So they see something, I think, in all their casting choices. They really trust their actors and push them. Christy, this season, cannot be more different from Violet in Solstice.

From the first two episodes that I have seen, Christy is more low-key, part of a somewhat dysfunctional family unit. So what was it like playing her?
PB: I really loved Christy from the get-go. It was the first time I was playing a mother. And [director] Adam [MacDonald] and I, who are old friends and worked together last season as well, of course, we had really great conversations about her early on.

She is levelheaded. But as you can imagine with this show, nothing is ever what it seems. And a lot unravels very quickly. We talked a lot about Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Mother. That was somebody that Adam really took to early on as a reference for Christy. And I think we really held onto that, because I think she is this sort of grounding centre, and she really operates as eyes in for the audience. She really is a moral compass. And I think she’s fully aware of the dysfunction of the Galloways and has been married into that family for so long. But as you might have been able to see from the first two episodes, if you aren’t a blood relative, you are never fully accepted. And even when you are a blood relative, nothing is off bounds with those family members.

You said something interesting about talking to Adam about Christy. Do you like to do that with your characters, talk them out with the director? Or is that the case of you’ve known Adam, and so there’s that comfort level?
PB: That’s such a good question. I love working with all kinds of directors and really love to kind of adapt to what their process is too. But I think what’s really special about Slasher and about Adam as a director is that he’s taking on something that really is Herculean. His relationship with Ian and what they bring in leading that set is really special.

We are block shooting all eight episodes out of order for many months. So we do have the advantage of coming in with all the scripts prepared and arching that together. And I know Adam, we just love every character so much and have a full life for them. So I know that he spoke to everybody really, about different references I think. And that is the joy of the show. It really is. It feels like we’re building it all together.

And then add to that, the chemistry of the cast that doesn’t get to meet—unless we’ve known each other previously, we don’t get to meet before we start shooting. So a lot sort of evolves on the floor as well. And especially in some of those bigger group scenes, which you’ll see a lot more of in this season until people start dying. We are all sort of together a lot and absorbing a lot of the madness together. And I think Adam is so great at seeing what chemistry pops up on the day and really running with that.

I’ve really enjoyed the big, family meeting scenes. As an actor, do you like that too, the bigger the group, the more people to play with in one spot?
PB: I love it. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I feel like I should be more jaded or something, but I do really enjoy it all. I do. I really relish in some of our quieter, two-hander moments myself and Breton [Lalama], myself and Chris Jacot got to do some stuff in the first couple of episodes together that was on the sort of more intimate side. And I love acting opposite those two actors and opposite our entire cast.

And then something like a big dinner scene, where we’re all sparring, and David Cronenberg is at the centre. Those are so exciting to me. And I think it does feel like theatre. I find those really long scenes, where the pace is quicker, and we’re jumping on top of each other, I find it really thrilling. I like it when I feel a little nervous and have butterflies for the scenes that we’re doing, which I think happens a lot on our show, because we are doing scenes that are pitched very high, and the stakes are very high. So that’s kind of the thrill of it as well.

With this cast of familiar faces, if I start crossing faces off the list, and I haven’t seen a particular face yet, am I on the right track as to who’s behind that mask? Or do you think I’m going to be surprised?
PB: I see what you’re saying there. Very tricky way of wording it there, Greg. I will say, that I was very surprised.

I scare easily, but I tend to be inherently suspicious, so I love a whodunit. Every season, you have a cast of characters that are all so, so rich. I would watch shows about all these characters, honestly, on their own. So we have all these people in one room now, all these characters that have very full lives, that all have a lot of secrets. And I think once those secrets come undone, you’ll see that it really could be anyone behind that mask. And also, you can’t really predict what these characters are going to do to each other. And I think that’s actually possibly even more terrifying, honestly.

Slasher: Flesh & Blood airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite.

Featured image courtesy of Salvatore Antonio. Series images courtesy of Cole Burston.

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Preview: Murdoch Mysteries, “Love or Money”

From the comments many of you have made on this website and on the TV, Eh Facebook page so far, you are really enjoying the tone and storylines in Season 15 of Murdoch Mysteries. I have too, especially last week’s case on the train could with William facing off against his biggest foe … Henry and Ruth’s daughter, Jordan.

Here’s the official synopsis for Monday’s newest installment, “Love or Money,” written by Noelle Girard and directed by Sharon Lewis:

When Murdoch investigates the murder of a ladies’ man, Crabtree’s auntie is the prime suspect.

And here are some non-spoilery observations from me after watching a preview of the episode.

George is back
After a couple of episodes away, Constable George Crabtree appears in Monday’s storyline, supporting Effie as she continues to reflect on her ordeal. As for Effie, she’s not sure practicing law is her true calling.

Debra McGrath guest stars
After having her real-life husband, Colin Mochrie, be part of the Murdoch universe, it only makes sense that veteran actress Debra McGrath would appear. My only question is: what took so long? McGrath is pitch-perfect playing another of George’s aunts … and we can add a new flower to the list of The Flower Girls of Flower Hill. McGrath steals every scene she is in, and the comic timing between her, Jonny Harris and Yannick Bisson is impeccable. Also, keep an eye out for Shaun Benson as Anthony Quivell, a private investigator searching for money taken by the dead ladies’ man.

Julia gets in trouble
When a woman enters the hospital complaining of extreme abdominal pain, her doctor waves it off as something simple. Julia, not happy with his diagnosis, goes behind his back. You can imagine the results.

Director Sharon Lewis makes a mark
Murdoch Mysteries is a visually stunning show. But on Monday, director Sharon Lewis introduces intimacy through the camera work. During conversations, the camera pulls in quite close to the characters, making me feel like I was an active participant. Let me know if you feel the same way.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: History’s Big Timber hits the water in Season 2

Debts and detonations. That’s a key message delivered in Thursday’s Season 2 return of Big Timber on History.

The reality series once again rides alongside logger Kevin Wenstob and his team of family and staff as they work deep in the heart of Vancouver Island. This time the stakes are even higher than before. Aside from pulling down and shipping timber—and the dangers and drama associated with that—mounting debts at the mill, and possible bankruptcy, cause Kevin and his crew to forge into uncharted waters. Literally.

During the last timber season, Kevin purchased a new claim and heads there … with a little help from his mini ‘dozer and grader. With snow too deep to cut much-needed red cedar, Kevin is on the financial ropes, especially after receiving some mail from the government. As with many documentary series of this type, drama is presented via situations like the aforementioned two problems—usually just before a commercial break and often ad nauseam—and I have to bite my tongue and soldier through the storytelling trope to get to the good stuff.

Thankfully, Big Timber is full of good stuff—like Kevin plotting to use a beloved old boat in the timber process—and I’m looking forward to watching the full season.

Big Timber airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.

Image courtesy of Corus Studios.

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Preview: British Columbia: An Untold History is a crash course in the province’s diverse story

I’m always up for furthering my knowledge of Canadian history, especially when it comes to the provinces west of Ontario. And, thanks to the appropriately titled Knowledge Network, I can do that with British Columbia.

Debuting Tuesday at 9 p.m. PT on Knowledge—and available to stream for free on the channel’s website—the four-episode British Columbia: An Untold History digs deep to trace Canada’s most western land. Written and directed by Kevin Eastwood, whose excellent “Humboldt: The New Season” was broadcast on CBC Docs POV in 2019, the four-parter is a dramatic retelling of the province’s history, warts and all.

“As a settler who has lived their whole life in B.C., and went to school and university here, I thought I knew a lot about this place, but making British Columbia: An Untold History taught me I didn’t really know that much,” Eastwood said in a press release in support of the show’s debut. He notes that over 70 people contributed to it through interviews with authors, historians, knowledge keepers, elders, families, and descendants of historical figures. Indigenous, Chinese, Japanese, Punjabi, Black, and European stories are complemented by archival photography, film artifacts and footage to make for a fascinating series.

Tuesday’s debut, “Change + Resistance,” traces the Indigenous resistance to oppression in British Columbia. With the gold rushes and establishment of the new colony, Indigenous leaders resisted settler laws and challenged unsanctioned expansion into First Nations territories, only to be forced onto reserves. First Nations endured more losses when the federal Indian Act and residential schools criminalized Indigenous culture.

British Columbia: An Untold History airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. PT on Knowledge Network. It can be streamed on Knowledge Network’s website.

Image courtesy of Kevin Eastwood.

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T+E’s Bathsheba: Search for Evil serves up a history lesson with its scares

Anyone who visits this site already knows I love paranormal programming. I’m especially fond of the series that delves into the true tales behind the spookiness, marrying fact with what some regard as myth.

T+E has knocked out out of the park with scary series before, but the two-part documentary Bathsheba: Search for Evil, debuting Monday on the specialty channel, has reached another level.

Airing as part of its “Creep Week,” event programming, Bathsheba explores the true story behind The Conjuring. The 2013 feature film, starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren, was a box office smash. Now, Bathsheba pulls back the curtain on the Perron family—and the house—at the centre of the story. The entire Perron family was terrorized by an evil paranormal presence, a 19th-century ghost believed by many to be a witch named Bathsheba Sherman, who allegedly haunted generations of families that had taken residence within her remote grounds. Anchored by first-hand accounts from the living Perron family members and paranormal investigator Erin Goodpipe (APTN’s The Other Side), Bathsheba separates fact from fiction, with disturbing results.

“The original camera operator had nightmares for several days and quit the project,” series producer and director Sunny Grewal says. “They had done the first batch of interviews and were supposed to visit and film on-site, and they basically said, ‘Sorry, not sorry.'” The interviews are pretty intense stuff. Regardless of whether you personally believe in ghosts, hauntings and the paranormal, something happened to the Perron family in what was named the Old Arnold Estate.

Investigator Erin Goodpipe

The odd stuff isn’t contained to behind-the-scenes either. In Monday’s premiere, something happens behind Goodpipe that is, luckily, captured on camera. There was, Grewal says, no explanation for the occurrence.

Aside from intimate interviews with members of the Perron family—sisters Cindy, Christine, Andrea, Nancy and father Roger all participate— and current homeowners Cory and Jennifer Heinzen, Bathsheba gets to the heart of the woman the documentary is named after.

Bathsheba Sherman, born in 1812, was a farm wife, but rumours swirled. Myths claimed she was malicious. Townspeople hated her, believing she killed a baby with a sewing needle and sacrificed it to the devil in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Bathsheba attempts to get the facts right, and credit goes to Grewal and her team for being respectful in their storytelling of the living and the dead.

“One of the things I am most happy about is, it’s essentially a very female story, between [the late] Carolyn [Perron] and the sisters and then Bathsheba herself,” Grewal says. “Bathsheba was a real person, who has been collateral damage in some respects.”

Bathsheba: Search for Evil airs Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on T+E.

Images courtesy of Blue Ant Media.

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