Tag Archives: Frankie Drake Mysteries

CBC Gem’s Macy Murdoch is worthy of the Murdoch moniker

Murdoch Mysteries is a worldwide brand. With it comes expectations, so a spinoff associated with it leads to extra scrutiny. Thankfully, Macy Murdoch not only meets but exceeds those expectations.

Available now on CBC Gem, the Murdoch spinoff web series Macy Murdoch stars Canadian Screen Award winner Shailyn Pierre-Dixon as Macy, the great-great-great granddaughter of Detective William Murdoch. Set in the present day, Macy and her pals Zane (Beau Han Bridge) and Billie (Raffa Virago) travel back in time after a villain uses a time machine to frame William for murder, the trio goes back to 1910 to find the real perpetrator of the crime. Along for the ride in 1910 are Murdoch Mysteries‘ Constable Henry Higgins-Newsome (Lachlan Murdoch) and Mrs. Violet Hart (Shanice Banton), who help the kids with the case.

Initially developed by JP Larocque and Jessica Meya, we spoke with executive producer/showrunner Jennifer Kassabian (Frankie Drake Mysteries, Carter) and co-executive producer Robina Lord-Stafford (Frankie Drake Mysteries, Moonshine) about the project.

Jennifer, can you tell me how Macy Murdoch came to you?
Jennifer Kassabian: JP and Jess developed it with Shaftsbury before my time. I finished working with Jennifer McCann, who’s one of the series executive producers on Ruby and the Well. Around July, she reached out to me to say that Jess and JP were moving on to other opportunities and would I be interested in this project that she had because we had worked so well together. I said, ‘Well, let me just read everything,’ because I didn’t know if I wanted to keep my foot in the kids’ world, but then the bible that Jess and JP created blew me off my feet. I’ve never read a bible that good. It was so rich, and it was so interesting. I said yes, I’m in. I want to run the show. We didn’t have the money for a writers’ room. It was freelance scripts that were half assigned and half to be assigned, but I could have a No. 1, someone to help me shepherd the show through. 

Robina was the only name on my mind from the time we met on Frankie Drake. Sometimes those relationships on a show make you friends off a show. We were friends in real life, I already had a shorthand with her and I said, ‘Would you come on as the No. 2, and will we do this together?  

Obviously, anything with the word Murdoch in it is going to come with extra scrutiny. Robina, any nervousness on your part about it having the Murdoch name and William Murdoch involved in it? 
Robina Lord-Stafford: I didn’t really have enough time to think about it. I was on Pretty Hard Cases and Jen was like, ‘You’ve got to come and do the show with me.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ Once I was in it, it was like, ‘OK, we really have to make sure we’re doing the Murdoch world justice. We were lucky enough to get two characters from the world, so that was super exciting. Getting to shoot on the Murdoch lot was super exciting and that all kept elevating the production value of the show. We did consult with Murdoch writers to make sure that when we were going back into 1910 and creating a world for our characters to be in, that seemed authentic and real. We also binged a ton of Murdoch because we wanted to make sure that Henry Higgins-Newsome and Violet Hart’s voices were really authentic to what the Murdoch world has created already. 

Robina, when it came to the writers’ room, is it different to write for the web as opposed to an episode of broadcast television? Does each web episode represent story beats in a larger project?
RLS: Great question. We did have all those beats already. When Jen and I got onto the project, there were already, I think, two scripts written by previous writers. And so it was like, ‘OK, let’s continue this on,’ and then we had another writer that joined us. One of the things that we did maybe a little bit differently than what I’m used to doing in one hour is that we knew what the beginning, middle, and end of the whole series was going to be. We could then break it down into different episodes on how we were going to then achieve all of that to make sure that we were getting all the juice that we needed and the great cliffhangers at the end of each episode. 

You really pack a lot into each 11-or-so-minute episode.
JK: I think there is a misconception that when you hear 11 minutes it’s easy peasy and not that much content. You can get the story in when it was our primary goal and character development for sure. 

The young cast was simply amazing.
JK: We had a full day of chemistry reads between people’s favourite casting picks. We had already had Shailyn cast when we went out to cast Billie and Zane. Raffa and Beau sparkled in their solo auditions and then when we partnered up Raffa and Beau we had the magic of the Billie and Zane friendship right off the bat. This is Raffa’s first thing that she’s ever been on screen. She’s such a special talent. They did become fast friends on set, just good people who just really wanted to bring their A-game. 

Macy Murdoch is available now on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of Shaftesbury.


W Network and Nikki Ray Media Agency greenlight a set of romantic made-for-TV movies, The Love Club

From a media release:

Finding the love of your life and lifelong friendships along the way go hand in hand as W Network and Nikki Ray Media Agency greenlight and begin production on a set of romantic made-for-TV movies, The Love Club (4x120min). Corus Studios will distribute The Love Club internationally. Starring Brittany Bristow (Holiday Date), Lily Gao (Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City), Chantel Riley (Frankie Drake Mysteries), and Camille Stopps (Running with Violet), the made-for-TV movies are produced by Nikki Ray Media Agency for W Network and Corus Studios. The first of the four movies is currently filming in the Hamilton area with all movies shooting back-to-back until July. The four movies are slated to premiere Winter 2023 and onwards on W Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Corus’ premium streaming service, STACKTV.

At a New Year’s Eve college party, four women, each dealing with their own dating debacle, take a vow as the clock counts down to call on one another if they are ever in romantic trouble again – a vow that has them resurrecting their “Love Club” ten years later as each of them search for their unique happily-ever-after. Over the course of four distinct movies, Nicole (Brittany Bristow), Sydney (Lily Gao), Lauren (Chantel Riley) and Tara (Camille Stopps) each are the lead in their own love story, while their friends are involved in helping them find true love. Each movie, told from the point of view of one of the Love Club women, will thematically open with a flashback that takes viewers back ten years earlier to the fateful New Year’s Eve party where the women meet and form the Love Club. Ten years have passed since the Love Club women made their vow and while they have remained friends, their busy lives have led them to go their separate ways, until now.

The Love Club also stars Marcus Rosner (Arrow), Jesse Hutch (Batwoman), Andrew Bushell (Jump), and Brett Donahue (Private Eyes).

The Love Club is written by Canadian Screen Award winner Barbara Kymlicka (Glass Houses), directed by Jill Carter (The Bold Type), and produced by Nikki Ray Media Agency in association with Corus Studios, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund.


Canadian Screen Award nominees: Sharron Matthews and Vanessa Matsui

It’s Canadian Screen Awards week and we’re celebrating all week long in a very special way. We’ll feature exclusive interviews with the actors and creative folks who are nominated in the television and web series categories.

First up: Sharron Matthews, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Drama for Frankie Drake Mysteries, and Vanessa Matsui, nominated for Best Lead Performance, Web Program or Series for Ghost BFF.

Sharron Matthews, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Drama for Frankie Drake Mysteries

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
The beginning of the pandemic was…strange, to say the least…but after our first lockdown, I went straight into TWO writers rooms, so we just kept doing what we always do in the arts…creating through adverse times. Artists and arts administrators are used to calamity and since the TV and Film industry doesn’t perform in front of large groups of people, we collectively did some recon, and kept going, kept creating. Then I feel like the TV and Film industry really pulled together and figured out a safe, secure way to physically make TV in the face of great challenges. This is what I love about the arts, it always finds a way to survive and thrive. Shout out to the stage and live theatre makers, who have pivoted and found innovative ways to express themselves and have their work be seen.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
I’m grateful beyond measure that I had Frankie Drake Mysteries and the animated show Rebecca Liddiard (Mary Shaw on Frankie), Carmen Albano (Detention Adventure) and I created with Shaftesbury (Mary and Flo on the Go), to work on from almost the beginning of the pandemic. I spent most of the time up until we went to camera on both Frankie and Mary and Flo, writing and developing scripts for both shows, so I kept myself singularly focused on work … away from the uncertainty of the world around me. I have done my VERY best to stay positive. Some days have been better than others.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
I believe that Canadian writers and creators have become braver in expressing our unique comedic and dramatic voices. With worldwide successes such as Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek, Workin’ Moms, and even Frankie Drake Mysteries (if I may) it feels like we have realized that we don’t have to morph our visions to fit the gaze of other countries. Stories told from a Canadian perspective with a distinctly Canadian sense of humour or pathos have become sought after, which is thrilling and has laid the groundwork for an exciting and fertile future.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
Oh my gosh … I would be lying if I said being nominated by a group of your peer wasn’t validating. It is. It really is. I am thrilled.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I will be watching all the nights with my bubble pal, Mike Bickerton (nominated for his showrunning work on Canada’s Drag Race) and I’m fairly sure we’ll be wearing caftans. Large, billowing caftans. So, basically? We will be dressed in something we bought off the internet.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I’m a Hamilton girl forever, so I’m not too fancy. Chips and wine. I’m a simple gal.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
If I had the chance to give an acceptance speech, the first person I would thank is the indomitable Christina Jennings, head of Shaftesbury and producer of Frankie Drake Mysteries. She’s been a supportive force in my life since the day I started on Frankie. Since then, she’s answered every question I have asked about writing and producing, encouraging me to not have limits when it comes to creating. She sets an example not just for female producers but for producers in general, about how to be tenacious and think big. She’s taught me to give pause, time and energy to ideas that spark the soul, because if they don’t work out … there is a good chance those ideas may lead to greater, more fulfillable ideas. Christina leaves no piece of energy or innovation wasted. THANK YOU, CHRISTINA!!!

Vanessa Matsui, nominated for Best Lead Performance, Web Program or Series for Ghost BFF

Congratulations on your Canadian Screen Award nomination!
Thank you!!

How do you feel the Canadian web series industry is faring during these pandemic times?
Shooting, in general, is challenging right now, so indie filmmaking is particularly challenging because so much of your budget is going to COVID precautions. Which I completely understand and appreciate. Also, I think we are going to see a surge of creations post-pandemic. Especially during that first wave, I’ve heard that so many writers and creators, myself included, finally had the time to write that thing that they’ve been wanting to write. So there may be some unintended POSITIVE consequences to shutting down the industry for a season.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Ha! Well, it’s been a roller coaster, to say the least. I feel like each wave came with its own challenges. I’m a mom, so losing my ‘village’ has frankly been traumatic. And I’m a lucky one! I have a home and a partner and I was able to go back to work relatively quickly compared to so many. But in some ways, I’m incredibly grateful for these times. I’m a different person now and I look back on pre-pandemic Vanessa as almost a child. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m definitely a better, more me person now.

Do you think Canadian web series is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Yes! There are so many incredible web series right now that I’m such a big fan of. Band Ladies and Bit Playas come to mind immediately.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
It’s a really nice nod. I’m so happy that Kaniehtiio [Horn], Jean [Yoon], and Angela [Asher] were also nominated. I think four actresses being nominated for one show is just fabulous.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Ha! Sweatpants. Sorry, not sorry.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Pizza and wine!

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
An early supporter of Ghost BFF was Ana Serrano. I don’t think this show would have gotten as far as it did without her initial support. Also, my late acting teacher, Jacqueline McClintock, who always encouraged me to write and create my own work. She is in my heart whenever I step onto set.

Stream the Canadian Screen Awards on the Academy websiteTwitter and YouTube.

Check out the list of nominees.

Monday, May 17, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – News & Documentary, Presented by CBC (Narrator: Ginella Massa)

8 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Lifestyle & Reality (Narrator: Priyanka)

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Children’s & Animation, Presented by Shaw Rocket Fund (Narrator: Eric Bauza)

8 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Digital & Immersive, Presented with the participation of the Independent Production Fund (Narrator: Donté Colley)

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
7 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Creative Arts & Performance (Narrator: Tyrone Edwards)

Thursday, May 20, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Cinematic Arts, Presented by Telefilm Canada, Supported by Cineplex (Narrator: Nahéma Ricci)

8 p.m. ET: 2021 Canadian Screen Awards (Narrators: Stephan James and Karine Vanasse)


CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries ends after four seasons

Frankie Drake Mysteries is riding off into the sunset and will not be returning for Season 5.

The news was announced via Instagram on the stars’ Instagram pages on Sunday.

“We wanted to come on and let you guys know that, before it gets out into the world, that we have not be renewed for a Season 5,” Lauren Lee Smith announced. “We are incredibly disappointed, but we felt that it was really important for us to let you guys know. We are so incredibly grateful for the four seasons that we got to do and I know we all loved making this show.”

“I will miss the laughter that we had,” Chantel Riley said. “We laughed a lot, and that’s something I’m grateful for.”

“We’ve all gone through so many different things during these last four years, and we have all been so there for each other … this whole job was such a gift,” Matthews said.

You can watch the full announcement on Instagram.

“We can confirm that Frankie Drake Mysteries will not be continuing beyond this season,” said Christina Jennings, founder, chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury and Frankie Drake Mysteries executive producer. “We would like to thank the incredible cast and crew, and the fans for all of the love and support over the past four years. We are so proud of this show and look forward to sharing the final two episodes.”

Set in 1920s Toronto, Frankie Drake Mysteries follows the city’s only female private detectives, Frankie Drake and Trudy Clarke, as they take on the cases the police don’t want to touch. In a time of change and hopefulness, their gender is their biggest advantage as they defy expectations and rebel against convention. 

Co-created by Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci, Frankie Drake Mysteries stars Lauren Lee Smith as Frankie Drake, Chantel Riley as Trudy Clarke, Rebecca Liddiard as Mary Shaw and Sharron Matthews as Flo Chakowitz.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs in the UK, Spain, Brazil, Central and Eastern Europe, Finland, Portugal and New Zealand.

Season 4 of Frankie Drake Mysteries wraps up Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.


Link: Sharron Matthews and Thom Allison preview Frankie Drake Mysteries’ “Life is a Cabaret”

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Sharron Matthews and Thom Allison preview Frankie Drake Mysteries’ “Life is a Cabaret”
“I also thought it was appropriate, in our first scene together, this monumental moment in a show that Sharron wrote with a part for me in it, that we were in jail and in evening gowns. It just seemed perfect.” Continue reading.