Tag Archives: Jonathan Torrens

Game faces on. Production underway on Letterkenny spin-off series Shoresy

From a media release:

Crave, in association with New Metric Media, WildBrain, and Play Fun Games, announced today that production is underway in Sudbury on the all-new original series, SHORESY. The first official spin-off of international sensation, LETTERKENNY, the six-episode, half-hour hockey comedy sees the foul-mouthed, chirp-serving, mother-loving, fan favourite character, Shoresy, join a senior AAA hockey team in Sudbury on a quest to never, ever lose again. The puck drops on Season 1 of SHORESY Spring 2022, streaming exclusively on Crave.

With bench boss Keeso in the titular role, Crave also confirmed today the SHORESY cast features a lineup of certified beauticians and absolute legends – from sci-fi stars to real life big hitters. Tasya Teles (THE 100) stars as Nat, with Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat (Tribal) as Sanguinet, Blair Lamora (Paranormal Nightshift) as Ziigwan, and Keilani Rose (FLIMSY) tapped as Miigwan. From, Blainville, QC, rapper Jonathan-Ismael Diaby stars as Dolo, with former Montréal Canadien, author, and actor Terry Ryan as Hitch. Ryan McDonell (THE CROSSING) stars as Michaels, with Max Bouffard (LETTERKENNY) as JJ Frankie JJ, and former Kahnawake Condor and MMA fighter Andrew “The Canon” Antsanen joining the cast as Goody. Legendary all-time tough guy Jon “Nasty” Mirasty, former ‘Canes centre Brandon Nolan, and three time Stanley Cup winner, Jordan Nolan star as Jim, Jim, and Jim, respectively, with Listowel’s Keegan Long as Liam, and North Bay’s Bourke Cazabon as Cory.

The debut season of SHORESY also features guest stars Laurence Leboeuf (TRANSPLANT), Scott Thompson (KIDS IN THE HALL), Jonathan Torrens (TRAILER PARK BOYS), Jacob Tierney (LETTERKENNY), Camille Sullivan (TRIGGER ME), Eliana Jones (NORTHERN RESCUE), Kim Cloutier (LETTERKENNY), Michala Brasseur (GRAND ARMY) as well as social media star and podcaster Lysandre Nadeau.

As previously announced, an all-new season of LETTERKENNY is set to stream Christmas Day, exclusively on Crave.

SHORESY is produced by New Metric Media, in partnership with WildBrain and Playfun Games in association with Bell Media, with the participation of Canadian Media Fund, OMDC Tax Credits, and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and is distributed by WildBrain. Jared Keeso is executive producer, writer, star, and creator. Jacob Tierney is executive producer and director. Kaniehtiio Horn is consulting producer. Mark Montefiore is executive producer and Kara Haflidson is producer for New Metric Media.


Jonathan Torrens returns to TV with hilarious Vollies

The television landscape is constantly changing. Where once there were only conventional television stations, now we have streamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ opening up our worlds to programs outside of North America and around the world.

Bell has been going the other way, with hyper-local programming on its Fibe TV1 service. There Bell subscribers can access television projects from communities across the country. Vollies, available now on Bell Fibe TV1, is just one of them.

Co-created by and starring Jonathan Torrens and Sarah D. McCarthy, Vollies (a second season has been greenlit) follows the exploits of the Essex-West-Essex Fire Department. This crew has everything a real fire department does, including a shiny truck, baller uniforms, and super-cool nicknames. The only thing they don’t have? Actual fires to fight. But that doesn’t stop them from organizing a series of fundraisers, each more outrageous than the next, to buy a helicopter.

Starring a relatively unknown group of actors alongside McCarthy and Torrens, Vollies is awkward, heartfelt hilarity. We spoke to Jonathan Torrens and Sylvia Beirnes, Vollies writer, producer and partner with Torrens on Canadian Content Studios.

Vollies’ co-creator and star Sarah D. McCarthy

How did Vollies come about?
Jonathan Torrens: We had this meeting with Paul Gardner, who’s our guy at Bell Fibe1 TV, a year or so ago. He said, ‘What is the idea that gets your heart going?’ And I have never, in my 30-plus year career, been asked that question. And it was just a great reminder that there’s no substitute for genuine enthusiasm and passion. That’s how Vollies came about.

I had made a list of the things that I had available to me in my neighbourhood during the lockdown. My father-in-law used to be in the farm machinery business, and he had this empty warehouse. I was thinking about fire specifically and how I’ve never really seen it in a comedic setting. There’s a reason for that, it’s really expensive. And, although [first-responder shows] would suggest otherwise, there’s nothing inherently funny about the work that they do. After realizing that I hadn’t seen that and that we couldn’t afford fires, suddenly the idea of a volunteer fire department that didn’t have anything to do started to come into focus as a great setting for a TV show.

At what point did you and co-creator Sarah D. McCarthy start working together on it?
JT: Sarah was working with us on some other stuff. She’s an actor from here. She was helping with some of that stuff, because Sylvia and I just parse out little things, we need help with. I mentioned to Sarah that I was going to pursue this idea. She grew up across the street from a volunteer fire station in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, her house burnt to the ground when she was nine.

Her house actually burnt to the ground. And she was the one that said they had a DJ Backdraft who did teen dances every Sunday. And she was the one that said they used the vollies to give a curfew siren; that’s when all the teens knew it was time to go home. They’re so woven into the communities here and they do everything. They knock on our door and ask for donations for an auction to raise money, they do highway safety if there’s an accident.

Sylvia, how did the writers’ room on Vollies operate?
Sylvia Beirnes: It was my first one, to be honest. Jonathan and I have been writing things together, so we just tend to rip and jam, but this is the first time we had done something like this. We flushed the idea of the show out with a group of people. And then when it came to actually writing Jonathan, Sarah and Mark Forward were the ones who actually put pen to paper. I was brought in when we were reviewing everything, going through and trying to punch things up, no words came out of my actual fingertips, but it was through those conversations and through being able to brainstorm and go, ‘Is that a funny thing?’ I’m not from a small town, but I’m married to someone from a small town and have seen vollies in action. So you pull from your life references and experiences.

I was terrified to say a word at the beginning. When you’re in a writers’ room with the likes of Jonathan and Mark and Sarah, that’s only intimidating because I made it, not because they’re not wonderful people. But the minute I raised my hand for the first time it was received with warmth and yes, all the great things you would hope would happen to you. And it was just, it was awesome. I never dreamed in a million years that if I ever got to work on a scripted comedy, it would be our own. And the fact that I got to see my name and credits for writing something that I think is really funny and pretty sweet.

JT: Sylvia is selling herself short. She contributed lots of words and jokes and sentiments and promises.

Vollies’ James Faulkner

Jonathan, was it a Zoom writing room?
JT: It was. I’ve discovered about myself with age that there are certain things I’m not good at. And it’s as important to know what you’re not good at as it is to know what you are good at. Story is probably not my strongest suit, I’m a great character guy, good dialogue guy. I’m a good person to run a room because everyone feels like they can speak up and it’s warm and squishy.

But the math of story is probably the thing that I find the most tedious, the least sexy, the less fun. I’m like, let’s get to the jokes. I’ve learned through shows like Trailer Park Boys and Letterkenny that even though it’s a comedy show you still want to know what your characters are rooting for, what they want, what their goals are. And then your job as a writer is obviously to put obstacles between them and their goals. And inch them closer to it, back them away. So I brought in some heavies, Andrew De Angelis, Mark Forward, Steve Dylan, Alice Moran.

People who are funny, but also are quick to say, ‘Hang on a sec, that doesn’t really make sense.’ The first nut that we cracked was that, I think it was Andrew’s idea, everything is opposite world. So, if these people might not be super cool in normal society, here they’re ballers. And in fact, these volunteer firefighters think the town guys that do it for a living have sold out because they fight fires for money, whereas the vollies do it for the love of fire.

Once we cracked that, then it was like, ‘OK, I know exactly who these people are and what this world is.’ They think they’re cool, cooler than anyone. The other thing I’ve learned is that the stories don’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to make it, the power goes out during the snowstorm at the Halloween dance … that’s a whole season. When we had the idea to make it a series of fundraisers, that felt both something we could easily execute. And best of all, I think sometimes you lose a lot of resources you don’t have by doing unit moves all over the place.

Writing happened fast. Sylvia, what about production?
SB: It was the same. It was all happening at the same time. We are maybe gluttons for punishment, as far as that goes. But we also, one of the things we really pride ourselves on at CCS, is that we can make great things happen quickly. While Jonathan was wrangling the entire world, I was helping wrangle all kinds of other things in the background. It was a race to the finish line, navigating a pandemic was no small feat either. I was in isolation for two weeks in Nova Scotia, which actually proved to be the best thing ever because I just turned inwards and we just got it done.

Vollies’ Brian George

One of the things that I’ve loved is being exposed to folks that I don’t know. So, James Faulkner, I Googled him right after watching the first episode and I’m like, ‘I don’t know who this guy is.’ The same thing with Brian George. Jonathan, talk a little bit about pulling this group of people together that don’t necessarily have a ton or any IMDb credits to their names.
JT: One of the biggest kicks for me in this business is seeing it through the eyes of people that haven’t been exposed to it much. James Faulkner is the voice of the Truro Bearcats. He’s also the news guy on Pure Country in town, so I hear him every day. If you live in Truro, you can’t escape James Faulkner, he’s six foot nine.

But I just had a sense he would be a good performer and he really is. Brian is an accessibility advocate in Halifax and pretty funny presence online as well. He’s done some stand-up, sit-down comedy. I thought it was really powerful of seeing that type of main character without it being central to his character at all. In fact, one of the things I like about the pilot is you don’t know till they get back to the station that he’s even a wheelchair user.

Mary Austin is a Dal opera student, she plays Lil, she’s someone that we’ve worked with a fair bit. We kind of have this little Christopher Guest-style pod of people that we like to use and reuse that just bring us joy and are nice people.

Sylvia, the industry has changed a lot. You don’t have to pitch to the big broadcasters because there’s TV1 out there.
SB: I think it’s one of the most important opportunities that we’ve uncovered, to be perfectly honest. We did not know about it until we knew about it.

And you can go and create and make your dream shows, it’s CRTC funded. They have an obligation to support local filmmakers and television makers across the country. And you get to go and shop it around, so if another network wants to buy Vollies as a 22-minute piece, it’s a completely different contract. For us, it’s the opportunity to fund pilots and to be able to make things we love with really amazing people. We’re building a business show by show on it already.

Season 1 of Vollies is available on Bell Fibe now.

Images courtesy of Canadian Content Studios.


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.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Jonathan Torrens delivers the funny and heartfelt in CBC’s Your Special Canada

Jonathan Torrens wears his patriotism on his sleeve. Want proof? In addition to co-hosting a podcast with former Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart called Canadianity (a book is on the way this fall), he’s hosting a Canada Day special where he does maple syrup shots and jumps into a massive butter tart.

Your Special Canada starring Jonathan Torrens—debuting Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBC and repeating July 1 at 7 p.m. —is an entertaining and ingenious hour featuring Torrens playing himself and memorable characters like Slappy the Trivia Beaver and cross-dresser Sindy Crosby. A combination of online bits he’d already done for the network’s comedy portal were strung together with original content filmed in Torrens’ birthplace, Charlottetown. The celebration begins with a Sir John A. MacDonald re-enactor sniffing that everything has been done with regard to Canada Day television specials; Torrens aims to prove him wrong.

“The first is with The Taters of Conspuderation, a diorama with potatoes dressed as the Fathers of Confederation,” he says on the line from his home in Nova Scotia. “The second is ‘Jonath-Anne of Green Gables,’ a one-man show in which I play both roles, and my big finale is jumping into a big butter tart.” It took a few days for producer and star Torrens—along with writer-producer-director Richard Mortimer, producer Lynn Harvey and writers Paul Pogue and Steve Dylan—to suss out the content surrounding the existing skits; the result is a variety show with a Canadian angle.

Torrens gets gooey to celebrate Canada Day

There are plenty of outlandish moments in Your Special Canada—Torrens dons a beaver suit and slaps folks in the face with a whipped-cream-laden beavertail when they get trivia questions wrong, and has Zamboni drivers compete in an obstacle course—but there are goosebump-inducing ones too. Case in point: Torrens delivers a heartfelt take on Alanis Morrisette’s “Thank You” to this country and flies to Canadian Forces Station Alert in Nunavut to deliver maple syrup, Canadian flag toques and good feelings to soldiers stationed there.

“My challenge in Alert was to keep it together and not cry on camera,” the Mr. D co-star admits. “First of all, the sacrifices that they make for our country are enormous. Secondly, the universal feeling of the folks is that it’s an honour to be posted there and they’re happy to be there.”

“It just makes you realize that making funny faces on the TV … there is no merit in that compared to what these people are doing.”

Your Special Canada starring Jonathan Torrens airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBC. It repeats on Saturday, July 1, at 7 p.m. on CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail