Tag Archives: Laurence Leboeuf

Transplant: Creator Joseph Kay teases Season 2

To say Season 1 of Transplant was a success would be an understatement. Critics and viewers lauded the CTV medical drama with high ratings and Canadian Screen Award nominations and wins. The love extended to the U.S., where Transplant aired on NBC and around the world in the UK, Spain, Australia and the Netherlands.

Now Transplant is back and, judging by the season premiere—kicking off Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV—that success will grow even more.

We spoke to Joseph Kay, Transplant‘s creator—showrunner, executive producer and writer—about what’s next for Bash (Hamza Haq), Jed (John Hannah), Mags (Laurence Leboeuf), June (Ayisha Issa), Theo (Jim Watson) and recurring characters Dr. Mark Novak (Gord Rand) and Rania (Nora Guerch).

What was it like to see the love that the show was getting as the first season rolled out across North America?
Joseph Kay: I was and am really, really proud that people responded to the work. Really thrilled by that. There’s a team of people who work unbelievably hard to make the show on every level, and we care a lot about what we do and put all of ourselves into it. You work hard and sometimes audiences respond and sometimes they don’t, but you work hard either way. So to see people like it, to see audiences respond to it is just very humbling and exciting and thrilling. I always did feel that there was something at the core of the show that would connect with audiences. It tells someone’s individual experience that people are interested in, but it also has some resonance and accessible themes.

We always did our best to deliver them in a warm, engaging, fast-paced, page-turney sort of way. We are excited for people to see the work we’ve been doing the last year as well.

I immediately fell in love with the characters and cared about what happened to them. And that continues in Season 2 with the first episode, “Guardrail.” What is it that makes a show succeed in this connection with an audience like Transplant does?
JK: I wish I could articulate the answer to that well. I totally hear where you’re coming from, and as an avid viewer of things, sometimes you just connect and sometimes you don’t. I think on the level of Transplant, I’d say two things. One, I would first say that, man, we do have such a great ensemble, starting with Hamza, to Laurence, John, Jim, and then even expanding from there, our actors are very, very good. And I think that they deal with the emotion in a really real accessible, funny way. They’re just warm people that you want to spend time with and they convey that. So I think that’s a very huge part of it.

And in terms of the storytelling, one thing I’m proud of about the show is that we’re telling a very specific story for Bash that I think audiences are interested in, but I feel like we’re also trying to tell this kind of thematic story for everyone. Our stories are always about moving forward or starting over or reconciling old versions of ourselves with new versions of ourselves. We locate a theme and variations on the theme that allow audiences to connect with the show. And that that’s why audiences are interested in following those characters on their journeys. And finally, Transplant is a medical procedural, yes, but it’s very much about the main characters. Some of these shows have a balance that skews towards the guest stars, the patients, whereas our show is really, really firmly grounded in the doctors and the main characters. So we try really hard to get you engaged on that level as well.

Was there anything that you changed between seasons? Anything you felt needed tweaking?
JK: We did some tweaking. From a narrative perspective, we feel like we’re going through stages of Bash’s journey, so we’re digging into a different side of it now. He’s kind of grasping onto job security and we get to open up deeper and wider emotional stories to tell, and that changes things, I’d say, just in terms of how we address the storytelling overall. From my perspective as a writer and producer and of all people who make the show, the directors, the editors, the people on set, we’ve gotten better at all sides of it, so it allows us some more freedom.

When we last left the group, Jed had collapsed from a stroke. Did you always know that would be the Season 1 cliffhanger?
JK: In the first season I actually had intended to kill John’s character in the finale. I had always been really fascinated by the death of the mentor part of a hero’s journey. And that’s what we started off kind of thinking that Bash would’ve saved him in the pilot and there’d be lingering effects from what had happened that just kind of come out of nowhere and kill him and then Bash would’ve had to move forward without him. By around Episode 4 of production in Season 1 we realized, ‘We can’t do that.’ He’s too good. He makes everything around him better, as an actor, as a human being, as a person to collaborate with. He’s just a wonderful presence and performer.

In Monday’s episode, we are introduced to Dr. Mark Novak, who shakes up the department. I love Gord Rand and was thrilled to see him play this character.
JK: I like to think of [Mark] as a little bit puckish, because he’s an agent of chaos and that’s a really fun thing to write, too, and Gord really delivered.

A question about your writer’s room. Adam Barken, Stephanie Morgenstern, Mark Ellis, Rachel Langer, Julie Puckrin … what a who’s who of a writer’s room. What was it like working with these folks in the writer’s room for Season 2?
JK: We’ve been blessed on that level across the board. Everybody was really excited to come onto the show when the writing started for Season 2. And yeah, you absolutely nailed it, it’s kind of an all-star list of writers that you just rattled off. They’re all incredible. One thing that I think is great with Transplant is because there’s freedom in the narrative when it comes to the kinds of stories we tell it encourages great writers like that to come with stories they are really passionate about, they would love to tell that maybe it would be harder to tell in other kinds of places. And I always am like, ‘Yeah, let’s find a way to tell that story.’ I feel like it excites the writers, so we have this season all throughout, all of those people brought selflessly pieces of themselves to share and pour into the show. And I’m really proud of the results that are great. We’re lucky to have them.

“Guardrail” really kicks off Season 2 with incredible visuals.
JK: I want to shout out to Stefan Pleszczynski, our lead director and one of the EPs this year who is a huge part of just maintaining the aesthetic consistency of the show. Beyond Stef, the whole production team is really committed to that. Our director of photography, Pierre Gill, is an unbelievably talented guy, and we sort of across the board take that really, really seriously. Directors who come to the show all want to knock it out of the park on a visual level. There’s a way that the show’s written that encourages long takes or exciting movement, and the directors all really like to play and make the production value really sing.

What types of stories are on the way in Season 2?
There are stories coming up where we deal with different issues, medical issues, cultural issues. And in all of those cases, we just take the research and authenticity and truthfulness component extremely hard, because I think that something that’s inherent to the tone of the show across the board is it tries to be grounded. It tries to be human. It tries to be emotionally honest. So we always like to do that work and we challenge ourselves to do that work and be challenged all the way from idea to beyond editing, and editing is still doing that work.

You ended the first season with a cliffhanger. Is that the same with Season 2? Have you set that bar? Is there a cliffhanger at the end?
JK: There is a cliffhanger at the end of Season 2. There are multiple cliffhangers.

Transplant airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Award-winning CTV original drama Transplant returns for Season 2 January 3

From a media release:

Following a successful first season that garnered worldwide acclaim, and four Canadian Screen Award wins including Best Drama Series, CTV Original drama TRANSPLANT returns for its second season Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning Jan. 3 on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app. Season 2 of TRANSPLANT is produced by Sphere Media in association with CTV and Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, and the translated French version, TRANSPLANTÉ, joins Noovo’s lineup in 2022.

Filmed in Montréal, Season 2 of TRANSPLANT consists of 13 one-hour episodes and is anchored by Hamza Haq (My Salinger Year) as Dr. Bashir Hamed – known to most as Bash – a talented doctor and Syrian refugee who fled to Canada and was granted a second chance to practice Emergency Medicine at York Memorial Hospital in Toronto. In advance of the Season 2 premiere, viewers can catch-up on Season 1 on CTV.ca and the CTV app.

Season 2 of TRANSPLANT picks up almost immediately where Season 1 left off, with Bash (Haq) and his fellow residents reeling after their Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah, MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.), suffered a stroke. With everything at the hospital destabilized, the place Bash was starting to consider home suddenly feels precarious. As the team adjusts to new colleagues while dealing with the challenges of life, unexpected faces from the past leave Bash questioning what his ‘transplant’ into this new world really means. Bash’s hard work, compassion, and hopefulness tell a universal story about the human ability to not only survive, but ultimately thrive, when our lives suddenly change course.

Joining Season 2 in recurring roles are Gord Rand (CHAPELWAITE, ORPHAN BLACK) as Dr. Mark Novak, and Nora Guerch (TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN, Zoe) as a woman from Bash’s past who was reunited with him at the end of Season 1. Also appearing in Season 2 is TRANSPLANT cultural consultant and internationally produced playwright and actor Ahmad Meree, who plays a character with a gripping, defining role in Bash’s past.

Returning cast starring alongside Haq are Laurence Leboeuf (19-2) as Dr. Magalie “Mags” Leblanc; Hannah as Dr. Jed Bishop; Ayisha Issa (Polar) as Dr. June Curtis; and Jim Watson (DESIGNATED SURVIVOR) as Dr. Theo Hunter. Also back for Season 2 are Sirena Gulamgaus (ORPHAN BLACK) as Amira Hamed; Torri Higginson (DARK MATTER, THIS LIFE) as Claire Malone; Linda Smith (19-2) as Dr. Wendy Atwater; Kenny Wong (PRETTY HARD CASES) as Arnold De Luca; and Sugith Varughese (KIM’S CONVENIENCE) as Dr. Aajay Singh.

Resonating with audiences across the country, TRANSPLANT was the biggest new Canadian drama since 2015, becoming the most-watched Canadian series among total viewers, with an average audience of 1.4 million during the 2019-20 broadcast season. Following the success of the first season in Canada, the series has been embraced by U.S. viewers on NBC and across multiple territories including the UK, Australia, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands. The critically acclaimed series also garnered six Canadian Screen Award nominations and four wins, including the coveted Best Drama Series, and Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Hamza Haq.

On the Season 2 premiere of TRANSPLANT, titled “Guardrail” (Monday, Jan. 3 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app), a bus full of kids crashes and sends the team racing. Bash’s (Haq) life is upended when he is reunited with a woman from his past. With Dr. Bishop (Hannah) still unconscious after his stroke, Mags (Leboeuf) struggles to find support in her mentor’s absence. Theo (Watson) faces repercussions from his family after taking a full-time job away from home, and June (Issa) has an important career decision to make. An encore of the Season 2 premiere airs Thursday, Jan. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Writers on Season 2 of TRANSPLANT include Joseph Kay, who is also Executive Producer and Showrunner, Adam Barken (EP), Stephanie Morgenstern (EP), Mark Ellis (EP), Rachel Langer (Co-EP), Julie Puckrin (Co-EP), Tamara Moulin, Anusree Roy, Sami Khan, and Carmine Pierre Dufour. Directors are Stefan Pleszczynski, who also serves as Executive Producer, Daniel Grou (PODZ), Chloé Robichaud, Bosedé Williams, and Kim Nguyen.

Cultural consultants on Season 2 of TRANSPLANT, providing valuable insight and feedback on scripts and character development, include Dr. Khaled Almilaji, Ahmad Meree, Manar Chabouk, Dr. Yusra Ahmad, Muzna Dureid, and Eli Shankji.

All distribution rights for TRANSPLANT are handled by NBCUniversal Global Distribution, with the series airing on NBC in the U.S. The series is produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, provincial and federal tax credits, SODEC, the Bell Fund, and the IPF’s Cogeco Television Production Fund.

TRANSPLANT is created by Joseph Kay who also serves as Executive Producer and Showrunner. For Sphere Media, Executive Producers are Bruno Dubé, Jocelyn Deschênes, Virginia Rankin, Josée Vallée, and Tara Woodbury.

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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.

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Transplant’s Laurence Leboeuf: “Something is about to happen that I don’t think people are going to see coming”

Medical shows are a dime a dozen. As such, it takes a special kind of show in that genre to make me perk up, take notice and—most importantly—tune in every week.

Transplant is that special kind of show. Created by Joseph Kay, Transplant is a medical drama with a twist—a Syrian refugee and his sister come to Canada where he works in a Toronto hospital—filled with characters that are flawed, complex and, thankfully, memorable. There is a reason the show is No. 1 in this country and was recently picked up to air on NBC. Yes, it’s that damn good.

Actress Laurence Leboeuf is an integral part of Transplant‘s success. Leboeuf, who I saw last on Bell Media’s equally excellent cop drama 19-2, plays Mags Leblanc, a workaholic resident who—as the season has progressed—has become quite close with newbie Bash (Hamza Haq).

We spoke to Laurence Leboeuf ahead of Wednesday’s season finale, which promises to be a nailbiter if CTV’s synopsis is to be trusted: Bash and Mags race to save a woman with mysterious symptoms who was nearly killed by their team’s medical error, Dr. Bishop and Claire face a devastating realization, Theo tries to help a gravely ill teen and his family deal with the possibility that medical hope has run out, and June finds a mystery patient unconscious in the waiting room and goes to battle to save him.

Give me your origin story. How did you get involved? Did you have to audition for the character of Mags or because of your relationship with Sphere Media Plus; did they already have you in their stable of talent?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, exactly. It was through that beautiful gang of people that I knew from 19-2 and then they, I guess read this role and they were like, ‘We think Laurence would be great for that.’ And I met with Joseph Kay, whom I didn’t know before, so I met him through FaceTime and talked about the character and the journey for Mags. That was it. I was part of the show. It was an amazing way to be cast.

She’s a fascinating character, she’s loyal and hard-working and she’s smart but she’s also seeking approval. She lives at work and she’s very complicated. She must be a fantastic and exciting character to play because there are so many levels to her. She isn’t a one-note character.
LL: Yeah, definitely. That’s such a great gift as an actor to have a great character like that to play and to play around with. And her complexity and her devotion to her work is just, that’s how she works. She’s giving it her all and she lives for that. And at the same time, she’s realizing that it might get the best of her. She doesn’t find that balance. And that’s really interesting to play and to play something that’s so far away from my life and my reality, like a doctor. It’s just amazing to dive into that world with her and her passion and devotion are just really nice to play with.

Are you the type of actor that likes to know the arc for a character, or are you happy with just reading the scripts as they come in?
LL: I don’t actually. It’s true that I like some backstory but it is nice to discover the character as we go along. And sometimes we even find different directions as we go along and we’re like, ‘Oh, this would be extremely interesting for this character…’ We’re not stuck in anything and I like that. I mean, there’s a base for everything but I like that openness and the fact that we can just play around with the character.

It’s alluded to that maybe there might be something between Mags and Bash that might not be just professional. Is that a logical progression for those characters?
LL: I think so, in a way. Since the arrival of Bash things have changed for Mags. The way that he works is so different from hers, that she was completely thrown off guard by his arrival. And I think she was really intrigued and admired his talent and could see that he had that raw medical talent and that same passion as hers to save their patients at all costs. They share that. She’s always been attracted and intrigued by this man that just got into the hospital. Yeah, I think there’s definitely some attraction there.

He’s so mysterious, too.
LL: Yeah, exactly. And I think, she likes that, too. I think it’s going to force her, maybe, to open up more or to go and reach out more because she’s also shut down all of that part of her life. The hospital is her boyfriend.

Let’s discuss the medical jargon. Was there a boot camp that you had to go to, to learn about processes? 
LL: Yeah, we did. On the weekends, we would get together with our onset doctor, Dr. Zachary Levine, and our nurse, Mike Richardson. We had these boot camps with them to coordinate the big scenes that we had to do. Like the double traumas that we had to do and how we were going to handle that. And that was amazing to have them around and to be able to help us with looking natural when we do our manipulation at the same time as we talk that crazy jargon and have to be believable. We had to pretend that we were so confident in what we were doing that it looked like we know what we’re doing. The boot camps were amazing for that.

That tracheotomy that you did in the elevator looked pretty convincing to me.
LL: Oh, my god.

I think you could do it.
LL: Yeah, right. Oh, my god. I’m wouldn’t want to try. I had a hard time doing it on a fake neck because I was so stressed out. Oh, yeah. But Mags did good, though.

Can you tease Transplant’s season finale? Is it going to be a cliffhanger? Is it going to be shocking?
LL: I think so. I think there’s going to be a bit of a mix of all that. Definitely, we’re going to be left with a cliffhanger and something is about to happen that I don’t think people are going to see coming. We’re going to have those surprises coming our way.

Transplant‘s season finale airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

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Joseph Kay returns to TV with a new family in CTV’s Transplant

A part of me will always miss This Life. Created by Michael MacLennan—from an adaptation of Radio Canada’s Nouvelle Adresse—and taken over by Joseph Kay when MacLennan departed for Los Angeles to co-executive-produce The Fosters, the story of a single mother raising her two daughters while battling cancer was cancelled far too soon. I feel like Kay was just getting the story going before it came to an end.

Thankfully, Kay is back with a brand-new primetime family, albeit with a different style of story. Debuting Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, Transplant follows Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq, The Indian Detective), a Syrian doctor with battle-tested skills in emergency medicine, makes the difficult decision to flee his country with his younger sister Amira (Sirena Gulamgaus, Orphan Black).

With the hope of returning to his career in medicine, Bash and Amira build a new life in Canada while managing the struggles that come with a new country. Bash works in a new environment after earning a residency in the Emergency Department at Toronto’sfictional York Memorial.

Alongside Bash at the hospital are Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah), Dr. Mags Lablanc (Laurence Laboeuf, 19-2), Dr. Theo Hunter (Jim Watson, Mary Kills People), Dr. June Curtis (Ayisha Issa, Dark Matter) and head nurse Claire Malone (Torri Higginson, This Life).

We spoke to Joseph Kay about his road to Transplant, the learning curve of writing a medical drama and Hamza Haq’s superstar potential.

How did Transplant come about? What was the origin story?
Joseph Kay: I started developing it way back in 2016 right as This Life was ending actually. At the time I had been reading a lot about really skilled professionals from different parts of the world who come here and then can’t qualify and can’t do their jobs. It occurred to me that that could be a novel take on the genre. I was always a fan of the medical genre. And when I started thinking about it on those terms also in 2016, Syria and the conflict was in the news a lot. It still is, but it was in it quite a bit then. And there were a lot of refugees and newcomers and immigrants coming to Toronto specifically.

Two sort of jumped into my mind together, the idea of building a show around a refugee coming from Syria who was amazingly skilled at something and then wasn’t able to do the thing that he could do. I started researching pretty heavily both sides of that, particularly the Syrian side and immediately got connected and found a lot of different Syrians who were here and different kinds of immigrants and newcomers to get people’s lived perspectives and trying to figure out whether I could write that and sort of went from there.

Was the name of the show always Transplant, or was it something else?
JK: It was always Transplant. It’s just a very evocative, I love single word titles.

Let’s talk a little bit about some of the other research you had to do. Was that a bit of a slog for you or do you like doing that kind of research into medical terminology or do you pay somebody to do that for you?
JK: Both. I love it, Greg. I actually love it. I found, very early on, a doctor who is a trauma team leader at St Mike’s hospital in Toronto. So, by the time the show was up and running, we had a lot of consultants. But in the early days, I was very fortunate to come across a guy who was willing to give a lot of his time to just take me through everything and read the scripts and help me with the dialogue and all the medical-ese.

Hamza is great as Bash, a very expressive face. I’m cheering for him and fell in love with him. Was Hamza, when he walked in the room or when he supplied his casting tape, was he the guy right from the get-go?
JK: Definitely. Hamza and I knew each other because of the second season of This Life. He was sort of a foreign student in his little arc and he was nominated for a CSA for his role. And at the time Hamza and I talked a lot. Hamza’s an immigrant and part of his background formed the character he was playing on This Life. We get along well creatively. So as soon as I started thinking about this show, Hamza was the guy I started thinking about very, very, very early on in the process. Of course, we looked at every available actor all along because you always have to do that. But Hamza was very prominent in my mind and in the minds of the people at Sphere Media from the beginning. And then when he did finally start reading for it: he’s a star.

He’s charming, he’s got great energy, he is very expressive. And the character was always meant to be the kind of person who doesn’t say that much, so you want a specific actor who can pull that off. And I had written this thing about the character in one of the series documents, which is that Bash is the kind of guy who you tell all your secrets to and then you realize that you don’t know a single thing about him and you told him everything.

Can you tell me about some of the themes and storylines that you cover in the first season?
JK: When we started really digging into the creative we quickly realized that the storytelling lends itself to this idea of starting over. Starting over of second chances, so everything systematically would flow from that. I mean, it’s Bash’s opportunity to start over. And so in that way, the stories that we tell over the first season are, what are the challenges there both at work and the kinds of conflicts he’s going to find himself in at work? He’s the kind of person who is all instinct and a bit of a rule breaker. He acts before he thinks. So we’re trying to look at sort of the challenges he faced in an environment being an outsider combined with the sort of the nature of his personality.

And then also to see the other side of him. We’re fortunate in that we’re able to go home with him and see a little bit of his family life. And so we’re telling his story of starting over and we’re also at the same time wondering who this guy is and where he came from really and what happened to him and what he left behind. So as we encounter present-tense conflicts and challenges at work and in his personal life, we start to unpack what happened to him and what are the sort of major events of his life that have led him right now. We let those trickle out in ways that keep it interesting and mysterious.

Transplant airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

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