Tag Archives: Mr. D

Hudson & Rex: Jessie Gabe on writing for a series where a dog is the star

Jessie Gabe took a bit of a circuitous route to writing for television. Initially interested in acting, she moved from Montreal to Toronto where she performed and wrote sketch comedy. But it was on a train where her professional writing career took off.

“I met a guy on a train and I very luckily wound up, through him, meeting his cousin, who is now my agent and who got me my first job as a writer on Being Erica,” Gabe says. A stint on Being Erica was followed by co-creating Agnes & Harold (which she also starred in), penning the film Cas & Dylan, and a writing and executive producer gig on Mr. D and Frankie Drake Mysteries.

She also was part of the writing staff and co-executive producer on Season 1 of Hudson & Rex. In this week’s episode, the team moves quickly when Donovan’s ex wakes up with blood on her hands and a dead roommate. We caught up with Gabe, who is freelance writing scripts for Season 2 of Hudson & Rex and co-writing a feature film on the life of Canadian Phil Hartman.

Had you ever considered writing before?
JG: I had written, but I actually had never considered being a professional screenwriter. I don’t think it had occurred to me. I was in my 20s, and I had written sketch and by a total fluke, I had written a couple of spec scripts quite a bit before that, just because a friend of mine was considering being a writer and it was an activity that I did with him. I had them on file, but it was like a game at the time. And I was working on a feature, that again, with really no knowledge of anything, no outline, just Page 1, fade in, because my roommate was a filmmaker and thought, ‘We don’t anything, and you’ll write it, and you’ll star in it, and I’ll film it.’ We were both struggling artists. Luckily, it didn’t get made, thank god. It turned into Cas & Dylan, and it got made with, thank god, not myself in the lead role.

A dog stands, looking into the camera.You were on Mr. D, then you were on Frankie Drake Mysteries. And once you were in the Shaftesbury door, I’m assuming that’s part of the reason you ended up on Hudson & Rex, is that true?
JG: Yeah, they just moved me over. I was winding down on Frankie, and they were like, ‘Hey, we need writers on Rex.’ Initially, I was hired to just do one script and four weeks on the show, and I really thought it was just a short little stint, because they initially had, what was it, 8, or 10 episodes?

And then I suddenly got a call saying, ‘They’ve just expanded it, can you do another script?’ And I was like, ‘Great!’ And then a few weeks later, they’re like, ‘We just found out now that the order is 16. Would you do another script?’ And it kept expanding, so I kept getting a few more weeks, and then another script, and a few more. And now, I’m freelancing on Season 2, writing another script.

What were your first thoughts when it came to writing Hudson & Rex?
JG: I think the initial challenge was what is the tone of the show? Probably everybody assumed going in that it was going to be extremely lighthearted and comedic. And that’s my wheelhouse anyway, so I figured that’s what I’m going to bring also. Comedy is more my thing really. And then I get into the room, and the storylines are pretty heavy and dark. And I thought, ‘What is happening here?’ But it’s interesting, it’s just not what I initially expected, and I think maybe I wasn’t alone to think that, so we started to adapt. Making the dog the star of the show and trying to tell a mystery that would be impossible to solve without the dog—the dog is supposedly Charlie’s superpower—that is the goal that we always strive for anyway. It can be challenging, but it’s interesting that the show itself is more like just a cop procedural. So it doesn’t have that childlike, or younger, tone that maybe we initially expected going on.

Even though the writers’ room is so collaborative, when it comes to writing, do you go off on your own, do you have a soundtrack that you listen to while you write, do you need to be in a Starbucks or something with some background noise, how does it work for you?
JG: I don’t like listening to music, because I’ll start singing along, or even humming to a tune. I’m not hearing the words and the dialogue, so I like being quiet. But at the same time, I’m happy to work in a coffee shop, so background noise doesn’t bother me. But I tend to work at home. I’m flexible. I don’t have only one way that I can do it. I have a four-year-old and sometimes it’s wherever.

Is there anything that you’re working on that you talk about at this point, or is it all just about focusing on Hudson & Rex?
JG: A feature that I’ve been working on, it’s a biopic about Phil Hartman. I have a co-writing credit with Jonas Chernick. He wrote the initial script that I was brought on to rewrite, but we’re co-writers on it. So yes, story biopic about Phil Hartman, and we’ll see where it goes. It’s being produced by Tyler Levine at Carousel Pictures. Phil Hartman’s daughter has been very supportive and got the creators of The Simpsons on board with us.

Hudson & Rex airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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Screen Nova Scotia announces 2019 award winners

From a media release:

Screen Nova Scotia hosted its fifth annual awards gala on Friday, May 3rd in front of a sold-out crowd at Casino Nova Scotia. The event celebrates the incredible talent, creativity, and passion that are the trademarks of Nova Scotia’s screen industry. Notable awards include the ACTRA Awards for Outstanding Performances, the Film Crew Excellence Award, the Digital Animators of Nova Scotia Award, the Women in Film & Television Atlantic Award, and the Community Recognition Award, along with Screen Nova Scotia Awards for best television, film, and animation.

The event was kicked off by actor/comedian Bette MacDonald, and presenters included producers, directors, crew members and actors, with musical accompaniment from the Bill Stevenson Trio.

The night’s finale was the Screen Nova Scotia Award for Best Feature Film, which went to the indie drama Splinters, from acclaimed director Thom Fitzgerald (produced by Emotion Pictures). The film — which explores interconnections of sexual identity and family, as a young woman reassesses her relationship with her mother following the death of her father — also garnered top prizes for its actors. Shelley Thompson was awarded the ACTRA Maritimes Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Female Role, and Bailey Maughan won Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Male Role.

The final season of CBC’s Mr. D was crowned the winner of the Best Television Series Award. Produced by Topsail Entertainment, Mr. D filmed for eight seasons in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Production on the series generated $126.5 million in economic activity and created over 1,400 jobs.

Kathryn MacLellan took home the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Female Role for her role in the Nova Scotia/Newfoundland co-production Hopeless Romantic, while Jordan Poole won Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Male Role for his role as Luke, Toni Collette’s son, in the movie Birthmarked.

Peep Media’s Bernie Langille Wants to Know…Who Killed Bernie Langille won the Best Short Film Award, with the film’s director Jackie Torrens also taking home the Best Director Award from Women in Film & Television – Atlantic. The Best Documentary Film Award went to The Social Shift, from Mirror Image Media and Common Good Solutions.

Paul Bronfman, Chairman/CEO, William F. White International Inc. received the inaugural Industry Champion Award in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the production services company setting up shop in Halifax, and their continued and unwavering support of the Nova Scotia screen industry.

Digital animation was also spotlighted at the awards, with Teletoon’s Spaceman and Robotron sweeping both animation categories. The series is produced by Connections Productions and animated by Cartoon Conrad.

Greens Master William Gerhardt (IATSE 849) won the 2019 Film Crew Excellence Award. Gerhardt was instrumental in transforming Yarmouth’s Cape Forchu into an island from the 1800s for Robert Eggers’ most recent feature film The Lighthouse — currently screening at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival —  and has worked on multiple productions including The Mist, The Curse of Oak Island, and the Book of Negroes. The Community Recognition Award was presented to long-time industry supporter Bea Renton, Chief Administrative Officer, the Town of Lunenburg, for her tireless efforts to consistently ensure that Lunenburg is a welcoming community for film & TV production.

THE FULL LIST OF AWARD WINNERS:

Screen Nova Scotia Awards:

  • Best Feature Film: Splinters (Emotion Pictures)
  • Best Television Series: Mr. D (Topsail Entertainment)
  • Best Documentary Film: The Social Shift (Mirror Image Media)
  • Best Short Film: Bernie Langille Wants To Know…Who Killed Bernie Langille (Peep Media)
  • Best Animated Series: Spaceman and Robotron (Connections Productions)

ACTRA Maritimes Awards:

  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Female Role: Shelley Thompson (Splinters)
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Male Role: Bailey Maughan (Splinters)
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Female Role: Kathryn MacLellan (Hopeless Romantic)
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Male Role: Jordan Poole (Birthmarked)

Industry & Community Awards:

  • WIFT-AT Award for Best Director: Jackie Torrens (Bernie Langille Wants To Know…Who Killed Bernie Langille)
  • Film Crew Excellence Award: William Gerhardt, Greens Master
    Community Recognition Award: Bea Renton, Chief Administrative Officer, the Town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
  • DANS Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Animation: Don
  • Pinsent & Team, Spaceman and Robotron
  • Industry Champion Award: Paul Bronfman, Chairman/CEO, William F. White International Inc.

Image courtesy of Michael Tompkins

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Preview: CBC’s Cavendish brings the weird and wonderful

“That’s a weird show, man.” Mark Little says that during an ad for Cavendish on CBC. And though it’s not clear which show he’s talking about as he looks at a television set, the inference is he’s talking about Cavendish. And he’s not wrong.

Premiering Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on CBC, Cavendish is weird and wonderful, second only to Crawford in its strangeness, creativity and difference from the rest of the network’s winter lineup.

Created, executive produced, showrun and starring Little and Andrew Bush (Carter‘s Garry Campbell is credited as a creator too), the pair play Mark and Andy, brothers who have spent the decades following their parent’s divorce living with their mother in Toronto. Now the pair has returned to Cavendish, PEI, to care for their ailing dad, Rollie (Kevin Eldon), and reacquaint themselves with the community they left behind. (Look for Kathryn Greenwood, Kevin Hanchard, Joe Cobden, Teresa Pavlinek and Carolyn Taylor in Season 1.)

Little is probably best-known for playing Simon Hunt on Mr. D, but he and Bush have extensive backgrounds in writing and performing sketch. These skills are the bread and butter of Cavendish, which begins in Tuesday’s debut with Andy and Mark driving to the red-soiled province. It’s obvious within seconds the personalities at play here; Mark is innocent and looks on the bright side of things while Andy is quiet, morose and to many townsfolk, forgettable. This Ying and Yang results in plenty of funny moments, from Mark wondering if they’ll be able to converse with their Dad or if he’ll be “a husk,” and arguing over Andy’s high forehead.

Oddities rule the day in Cavendish, from the stuffed baby deer, fetus in a jar and sarcophagus—all pieces in their father’s home—to the beast living in the forest that emerges once a year to consume someone and an Anne of Green Gables cult. Yes, Cavendish isn’t like other towns. And Cavendish isn’t like other series.

Cavendish airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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Link: Q&A with Gerry Dee on the finale season of Mr. D

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: Q&A with Gerry Dee on the finale season of Mr. D
“We ended season seven in a way that we handcuffed ourselves a bit. That could have been the last episode, right? When we decided to come back for one more, our conversation with CBC we had to get creative. How does Gerry get back? There’s the easy way where it’s a bad dream and it wasn’t true but we wanted to think of something that was a little more clever so we think that we have done that with this.” Continue reading.

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