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.
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, andVanessa 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 wasâ€¦strange, to say the leastâ€¦but after our first lockdown, I went straight into TWO writers rooms, so we just kept doing what we always do in the artsâ€¦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 â€¦ 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 â€¦ 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 â€¦ 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.
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.
â€œWe 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.â€
Set in 1920s Toronto, Frankie Drake Mysteriesfollows the cityâ€™s only female private detectives, Frankie Drake and Trudy Clarke, as they take on the cases the police donâ€™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.
AMC Networks, the entertainment company behind some of the most popular and award-winning brands in television, streaming and film, and award-winning production company Shaftesbury, announced today they have entered into a new strategic partnership. Through its investment in Shaftesbury, AMC Networks will gain access to Shaftesbury’s award-winning slate and expand its content and development capabilities in Canada. Shaftesbury CEO and Chairman Christina Jennings will continue to spearhead the creative focus of the company and lead the day-to-day operational control alongside Executive Vice President, Scott Garvie. Jennings, Garvie and Shaftesbury board member Michael Levine will remain on Shaftesbury’s Board of Directors. They will be joined by two new AMC Networks directors, Harold Gronenthal, EVP of Programming and Marketing for AMC Networks International, and Matt Graham, GM of the AMC Networks-owned Acorn TV streaming service. Shaftesbury and its shareholders were advised on this strategic investment by RBC Capital Markets.
The new partnership will create growth for Shaftesbury’s existing and future slate of content across all genres, creating more opportunities for Canadian creators in front of and behind the camera. The partnership also builds on AMC Networks and Shaftesbury’s existing production relationship. Shaftesbury is the studio behind some of the biggest titles on Acorn TV, including all 14 seasons of Murdoch Mysteries. In addition to Acorn TV, AMC Networks operates the entertainment brands AMC, SundanceTV, BBC America and the fast-growing streaming services AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK.