CITYTV & OMNI TELEVISION ORIGINAL SERIES (PREMIERING ON SUNDAY, JUNE 11):
Premiering on OMNI Television this Sunday, June 11 are two new original series, including the comedy Our Big Punjabi Family and five-part documentary series Katiba Banat: Sisters in Arms, plus an all-new season of Filipino sketch comedy ABROAD.
Starting at 7:30 p.m. ET is Our Big Punjabi Family, a mixed Punjabi and English-language comedy series about a family therapist Sitara (played by Arshdeep Purba) and her family who are forced to move in with her husband’s traditional Punjabi in-laws after they lose their money in a bad investment. Following Our Big Punjabi Family is a new season of ABROAD. Produced in collaboration with Longhope Media Inc., Season 2 of ABROAD – the hit Filipino sketch comedy series – will premiere with eight, all-new 30-minute episodes in English and Tagalog at 8:30 p.m. ET. Co-created by and starring Filipina comedian Isabel Kanaan (Second Jen, Air Farce NYE, This Hour Has 22 Minutes), ABROAD is a Canadian Screen Award-nominated series based on the immigrant experience in Canada. Then, at 9:30 p.m. ET, the premiere of Adhel Arop’s Katiba Banat: Sisters in Arms – a five-part docuseries that uncovers the previously hidden stories of Canadian women who helped to liberate South Sudan.
As announced on Monday, Citytv has greenlit the all-new, one-hour crime drama Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent, an adaptation of the legendary Law & Order brand, slated to air on Citytv in Spring 2024.
And, as announced earlier this year, Citytv has greenlit an all-new season of Canada’s Got Talent – Citytv’s most-viewed original series in over a decade – in partnership with McGillivray Entertainment Media Inc., Fremantle, and SYCO Entertainment. New for next season, the winner of Canada’s Got Talent Season 3 will receive $1,000,000 – the biggest cash prize in Canadian television history – courtesy of Rogers. That’s not all! CIBC is awarding each of the six Golden Buzzer recipients next season with $25,000 each, totalling $150,000, to help realize their ambitions. Plus, CIBC will provide the Season 3 winner with financial advice. Applications are open now on Citytv.com.
Sean Baek entered my television viewing world through Killjoys, that most excellent space adventure created by Michelle Lovretta. His character, Fancy Lee, made an immediate impact with fans and, by the show’s end, he was just one of many fan faves on that fine program.
Since then, Baek has turned in memorable roles on The Expanse, Coroner, Private Eyes, Nurses and Utopia Falls. His latest gig? On Omni’s Sunday night drama, Blood & Water: Fire & Ice, as villain Norris Pang.
Airing Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET, this season follows disgraced former Vancouver cop Michelle Chang (Selena Lee)â€”now a Toronto-based private detectiveâ€”as she hunts down Norris Pang (Baek), the man who has kidnapped her daughter. Pang is also the mastermind behind a money-laundering scheme happening at the Xie familyâ€™s casino, where Anna Xie (Elfina Luk) is attempting to expand the family business.
We spoke to Sean Baek about his acting origin story, playing a baddie and, well, his facial hair.
Before we get into Blood and Water: Fire & Ice, I was going through your bio and saw that you were part of the Stratford Festival. Did you always want to be an actor?Â Sean Baek: Yes.Â My parents took me and my older brother and sister to a movie theatre. My formative years were spent in South Korea and I can’t remember if I was four or five or six. We all went to the movie theatre and there was this film about a family that gets separated due to poverty. I didn’t understand the entire movie, but I remember just being glued to the screen, obviously, because it was a young family, there were young kids in the cast. I was mesmerized.
Fast forward a few years, and I actually auditioned for a training program [at Stratford] called the Birmingham Conservatory. For five months, six days a week from 10 to 6 every day, you delve into classical theatre and classical theatre performance. You would have teachers from the UK, the Royal Shakespeare Company, people who’ve worked with Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen and all the legends as well. The first time I auditioned for it, I didn’t get in, but the second time was back in 2005 and I got in. I was one of 10 actors that got selected from across Canada.
Those five months were the best time of one of the best times of my life personally because I’ve met a lot of great friends, but also professionally because I learned so much. I already had nine years of acting under my belt, small to medium-sized theatres and film and TV credits here and there. But, I’ve always loved Shakespeare and I wanted to expand my knowledge. A little bit of luck had something to do with it too, but I put in a lot of hard work.
Let’s go from the stage to the screen. Let’s talk about Blood and Water: Fire & Ice. Creator Diane Boehme told me how COVID-19 messed up the production schedule. Can you give me the backstory of how you became involved? It sounds like your character was one person in one iteration of the show and then ended up being the Norris Pang who we’re seeing now. Â SB: We were filming in February of 2020 and into March. I was cast as this one character at the time named Norris Morris, and it was more of a hands-on sort of bad guy, this henchman type. Before we knew anything, production was shutting down. I was playing this character, and then the actor playing the main character in the first blockâ€”because he was from elsewhereâ€”due to travel restrictions [could not return].Â
It was a hair-pulling experience for everybody involved, to say the least. During the hiatusâ€”we had to stop filming from the middle to the end of March until the producers figured out, ‘OK, we’re going to block out these days and weeks to finish filming’â€”they had to rejig. They amalgamated my original character and the other character, so it became Norris Pang. He became this dude who does everything and anything possible to fulfill his goals.Â
As an actor, I’m assuming you like to play a variety of characters, but I love it when you’re sinister and Norris is a sinister guy.Â SB: Thank you. My wife said after she saw it, ‘Oh wow, the creep factor is high.’ I was like, ‘Well, I get paid to do what I have to do.’ It’s fun to explore that dark side of humanity. That’s the fun part because you get to explore the psyche of this fictional character.Â
How do the hair and the facial hair play into the building of a character like Norris?Â SB: The reason why I tend to have my beard is that when I shave I look a lot younger than my actual age. There was a period of my career, between the early to mid-thirties until my early forties when I was old enough to play young dads just like other colleagues. But I couldn’t because clean-shaven I was too old-looking to be in college, but I was too young-looking to be a dad.
I went through a lot of frustrating time periods like that. Now I go out for dad roles and characters who have kids a lot. That’s the reason why I tend to have that beard, just so that I can look the age that I am.
Blood and Water: Fire & IceÂ airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on Omni.
Jen and Mo have said goodbye. After three seasons on Omni, Second Jen will not be back for a fourth.
“It is bittersweet for us to announce that this has been the last season of Second Jen,” co-creators, co-executive producers and stars Amanda Joy and Samantha Wan, and showrunner Carly Heffernan posted on social media following the show’s Sunday season finale. “Thank you to everyone who has supported us. Thank you for the love and laughter over the years.”
“We leave Jen and Mo in a place that feels good; where they’ve grown, and learned, and come into their own,” the post continued. “We are so happy to have shared their journey with all of you. In many ways, their story has echoed our own.”
Produced by Don Ferguson Productions in association with Rogers Sports & Media, Second Jen Season 3 premieres Sunday, Feb. 14 at 8:30 p.m. local time on OMNI Television with six all-new episodes. Co-created, co-executive produced, and starring Amanda Joy and Samantha Wan, Second Jen centres on best friends Jen and Mo who band together to tackle lifeâ€™s ups-and-downs in Toronto. Whether itâ€™s â€œyellow feverâ€ or internet trolls, these heroines fight life’s dumpster fires together.
Nominated for Best Comedy at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, Second Jen jumps back into the frenzied friendship of Jennifer â€œJenâ€ Wu (played by Samantha Wan) and Jennifer â€œMoâ€ Monteloyola (played by Amanda Joy) to prove that the third time is most definitely the charm. Season 3 ups the stakes by exploring hot-button subjects, in stories that only Second Jen can tell. Topics this season include female empowerment, corporate diversity initiatives, intimacy and relationships, and family therapy from an authentic and hilarious point-of-view.
Second Jen once again features an all-female creative team, and a diverse crew behind the camera. Amanda Joy continues to serve as writer/story editor, penning three of six episodes this season. Samantha Wan continues as a writer and directs three episodes this season. Carly Heffernan returns as showrunner, head writer, and directs three episodes this season. Kathleen Phillips serves as story editor.