Tag Archives: Michelle Nolden

The Wedding Planners brings much-needed nostalgia to primetime TV

In a world full of turmoil and seeking comfort, Beth Stevenson’s creations couldn’t be more timely.

If you’ve tuned in to a Harlequin or Hallmark holiday movie, you’ve likely seen her stuff. Stevenson’s IMDB page is chockfull of such seasonal fare as Snowbound for Christmas, A Christmas Recipe for Romance, Twinkle all the Way or Christmas with a Prince. They’ve quickly become holiday classics. Now Stevenson, Brain Power Studio founder and executive producer, jumps into primetime TV with a new series.

The Wedding Planners, debuting Friday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv, introduces us to the Clarkson Wedding Essentials, a family-run business that is a one-stop spot for wedding planning. The business is headed up by Marguerite (Michelle Nolden), who hopes her children—Paige (Kimberly-Sue Murray), James (Michael Seater) and Hannah (Madeline Leon)—will one day carry on the business. When that day comes suddenly, the siblings are forced to work together to pull off the perfect wedding.

We spoke to Beth Stevenson about The Wedding Planners, and why shows like it are the perfect salve for uncertain times.

How did The Wedding Planners come about?
Beth Stevenson: Some of Marguerite is actually a lot to do with my mom was such a big part of my life. The reason I’m in the film and television business is because she was actually studying to go into the film and television business after she had raised all of us. I come from a family with siblings and Brain Power is actually a family company and a lot of my siblings do work in the company. My stepsons work in the company. We have that familial connection together with the fact that we’re building something and we’re working on something together. There’s a lot of comparison to how Marguerite has grown the business and expropriated bedrooms. We thought, ‘This will be a really nice location to base a series out of.’

What about the partnership with Rogers?
BS: Nataline Rodrigues, who’s the director of original programming, has this beautiful timeslot that’s called Fall In Love Fridays. We were doing many Harlequin films and most were Canadian content productions that we were doing for various Canadian networks. But predominantly, we were exporting them. She found me and said, ‘Hey, I see you’re doing romcoms and things that would work really well for our network.’ And we said to her, ‘We’re working on this nice limited series that is going to be about a family of wedding planners.’ We continued to talk and then we started to quickly move it through development and she believed in the concept and we went into production.

When it comes to putting together a project like this, a limited series as opposed to a two hour TV movie, it would seem there would be more space to play around. 
BS: It’s definitely nice to build worlds and to look at maybe a dynasty of characters that are together that can continue on. It’s good to do that two-hour movie to make sure you get the chemistry right in the casting, that you’re bringing these worlds together. With The Wedding Planners, we get the best of both worlds because we have this definitive storyline which is the bride and groom that we’re following that episode. And then you have this beautiful enriching family drama that’s flowing underneath it.

The TV-movies you have made have quickly become kind of go-to programming during the holidays. What is it that we love about these so much? Is it escapism?
BS: I go towards more of the word nostalgia. The holiday season has grown to a place of we want this comfort, we want this nostalgia, we want to have these moments where it’s that Christmas tingle people get. The nice thing from our adaptations is they’re coming from Christmas novels in many instances.

A lot of our movies are on Amazon Prime where we get the analytics every week. And it is phenomenal. It doesn’t stop in January I will tell you. Because I think again, people need that in these times. I think the barrage and the digital world can be very exhausting. So if you can get that comfort to come back and to follow a family or to follow a couple and to root for them and to have a little bit of a break, that’s, I think, making a big difference right now in the world.

The Wedding Planners airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.


Michelle Nolden dishes on Saving Hope’s Dawn and Zach

Saving Hope fans may be pleased as punch that Dr. Dawn Bell (Michelle Nolden) and Dr. Zachary Miller (Benjamin Ayres) are a couple, especially since Alex and Charlie have gone Splitsville. But don’t get too comfy with the twosome; executive producer and showrunner Adam Pettle and co-executive producers Noelle Carbone and Patrick Tarr revealed it won’t always be smooth sailing for the prickly twosome.

Ahead of Sunday’s new episode, “Midlife Crisis,” here is our interview from Michelle Nolden, done during a set visit last summer. She spoke about Dawn’s difficult past and her future, which includes a job shakeup.

Where is Dawn’s head at as we head into Season 5?
Michelle Nolden: Aside from beginning with the repercussions of the shooting, I think Dawn is in a happier place than she has probably ever been. From the time that she’s come on the show, it’s been a bit of a rough haul. It can’t be easy being at the same hospital as your ex-husband and see him be happy. I think she is in a well-deserved good place. And the relationship with Zach and Dawn, I’m really happy with the way the writers did it because it feels well-earned to me. They were friends first and are coming out of this needful, instead of needy, place.

It was pretty a pretty dramatic storyline she had last season with Lane [Shaun Benson] sexually assaulting Dawn. It was certainly a shocking storyline for fans; was it difficult to film those scenes?
I was happy with how murky it was. If things had gone a little bit differently, they may have gone home together, but because of a slight tonal shift, the idea of what is consensual and what isn’t shifted. I think it was really relevant in that way; the lines were a little grayer. That also gave Dawn a really natural way to play it, not really knowing what happened. What was that, and how much responsibility does she take for it?

Back to Dawn and Zach: does he bring out a softer side to her?
What’s fun is that it allows her to be harder too. I’ve never felt that Dawn was … well, sometimes she’s been bitchy and mean. [Laughs.] There have always been instances where you see that this is the way that she has been trained and it’s lonely at the top. Even if they invite her out for drinks it’s, ‘I’m your boss.’ When she lets her guard down it’s to a very trusted few. I think she really loves her doctors and she takes her job very seriously in protecting them and advocating for them. I love that there is a real professional side to her and a real private side to her.

What can you say about her job situation?
She’s not happy at not having her office. And, to be quite frank, when I as Michelle Nolden walked into my office I was like, ‘Why is he in my office?’ So, no, she’s not happy about it and is not going down without a fight.

Walking around the set, seeing Alex’s motorcycle and finding out about some of the guest stars this season, including Kristin Lehman, this season is a real shakeup.
That’s always one of the great joys of an ensemble cast. You get to spread it out and storylines because more fleshed out for the supporting characters, which is great. And, I think, we needed to go somewhere different with these characters. Sometimes you need to be apart to get together, and that’s what the fans want.

So many people have come up to me and said, ‘Please tell me that Dawn and Zach are not going to break up!’ People have really responded. And, I think, particularly for Zach and Dawn, who have been through so much they want there to be a happy relationship. While Alex and Charlie are apart, Zach and Dawn are together. To have everyone apart would be too much for the audience. But even within a happy relationship, and what Ben and I are really trying to play, is that they are a regular couple.

Saving Hope airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.