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Hudson & Rex’s Mary Pedersen talks Season 5

Mary Pedersen and I go way back. We first connected when she was a story editor on Murdoch Mysteries. After five seasons as a writer on Murdoch, Pedersen moved to Frankie Drake Mysteries where she was a writer and co-executive producer. These days, the Canadian Screen Award nominee can be found writing, co-executive producing (and directing her first-ever episode of TV) on Hudson & Rex.

Returning for Season 5 on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv, Hudson & Rex has become not only a Canadian hit but an international one too. The tale of St. John’s Detective Charlie Hudson (John Reardon) and his capable canine partner Rex (Diesel vom Burgimwald) have resonated since it was adapted from the original German series.

In the season debut, “Lost in the Barrens,” Charlie, Rex, Dr. Sarah Truong (Mayko Nguyen), tech expert Jesse Mills (Justin Kelly), Superintendent Joe Donovan (Kevin Hanchard) and new forensic pathologist Karma Poole (Bridget Wareham) are on the case of a missing woman, and suspicion quickly falls on her boyfriend (played by Murdoch‘s Daniel Maslany).

We spoke to Mary Pedersen ahead of Sunday’s return.

We have a lot to talk about! One of the great things about Hudson & Rex is that you know you’re going to get a solid hour of entertainment.
Mary Pedersen: Yes, and for all those dog lovers out there, there’s dog action. Anytime I see the dog on screen, I’m happy. So I’m one of those people.

Is there a major difference in writing for a TV series set in the modern day as opposed to a period drama like Murdoch Mysteries or Frankie Drake Mysteries or is story just story?
MP: Story is story. [Co-executive producer and writer] Keri Ferencz and I both came from Frankie onto Hudson & Rex and the main thing we noticed that we were delighted about was, ‘Ooh, cell phone calls, ooh, Internet!’ You can get your clues from a different place and sometimes it speeds up the action a little bit so that people can make calls and things like that.

And [showrunner] Peter Mitchell wanted to try to show more police procedural than mystery, so that also was an adjustment for us. But I’m constantly harassing the writing room with my love of NYPD Blue, so it appeals to me, and that’s been really fun.

It’s still a mystery. We’re still often meeting all our suspects pretty early on in the story. It’s a bit of a tweak mentally in terms of more of the action and discovery feels like it’s happening in the present, as opposed to we’re unravelling something in the past. There’s also the focus on how our cops figure out what they figure out, which is also true in Murdoch Mysteries. William Murdoch has a very specific way of solving crimes and of course, Charlie has a specific way of solving crimes with his trusty dog.

When you’re writing a script and you’re referring to something that Rex is going to do, do you write, ‘Rex looks this way,’ or ‘Rex whimpers’?
MP: We always feel his presence and all the directors on the show, most of our directors have been on the show before and they’ll know that you want to find Rex action as much as you can in every scene that he’s in, even if it is a matter of listening and reacting to the conversations that are happening.

So yes, we write it in to make sure we always feel his presence and that we, as writers, are thinking about him, [executive producer and dog master] Sherri Davis, and all of our cast. Our cast elevates what’s on the page and Sherri does the same thing. So she’s also so in tune with the dogs and knows what they can do and she will often look at the action we’ve written and suggest, ‘Oh, if we do it this way, that’ll be more exciting,’ or ‘This is something that we haven’t done on the show before and why don’t we?’ I think she also loves the stunt work as well as working with the dogs, so she’ll really elevate a lot of the Rex action as well.

What a place to be filming. The Murdoch Mysteries backlot is cool and everything, but man, St. John’s, Newfoundland, you can’t beat that.
MP: I first went out there, a year ago in May for Season 4 and I had never been before. I am from Nova Scotia, but I’d never been to Newfoundland before and it is just spectacular. Even now when I go, you can’t look anywhere that’s not gorgeous.

I love it a lot and I’m really glad that we’re getting more and more of St. John’s and the landscape around it onto the show. I think that’s just such a wonderful world and I love that we can put it on the show.

In addition to the key cast of characters we’ve gotten to know over four seasons, we’ve got the new addition of Bridget Wareham playing forensic pathologist Karma Poole.
MP: One of the main motivations for me, when we were talking at the beginning of the season about possibly bringing on another regular, semi-regular, was that Sarah—we saw this last season in one of the episodes, she goes on a retreat with some other professionals—and it really sort of drove home to both Mayko and I that Sarah doesn’t really get to talk to other women a whole lot. That was a big thing, to have somebody that Sarah could talk to besides the boys. She obviously fits in very well with the boys, but female relationships are really important in life, so that was a big part of the motivation for me in terms of getting another character onto our regular roster.

Hudson & Rex continues to welcome a whos who of Canadian talent to its episodes. Daniel Maslany kicks it off in Episode 1, but people stopping by include Paul Bronstein, Jake Epstein, Stuart Hughes, Matthew MacFadzean, Mary Walsh, K. Trevor Wilson, Steven Lund and Carlo Rota… how fun is it to write for guests of this calibre
MP: We’re so lucky. I think people love to come to Newfoundland. People have just been really game to come out and play with us.

This is the third show that you’ve worked on that is not only a critical hit, but also done very well internationally. Obviously, as a professional writer, you’re happy to have a gig, but do you ever sit back and pinch yourself?
MP: Every day. So much credit to Shaftesbury for making that happen and for making shows that appeal to so many people and Pete. Pete’s always, always, always had an eye on what is going to be entertaining. You don’t get a story past Pete if he thinks something is boring about it or too earnest. It’s all about having fun and entertaining people and yeah, I feel incredibly lucky to have stepped onto that boat.

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

Images courtesy of Shaftesbury.

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Citytv hits the golden buzzer on dream team of judges and host for Canada’s Got Talent

From a media release:

Lights, Camera, Talent! As production on original series Canada’s Got Talent gets underway in Niagara Falls, ON next month, Citytv today unveils Howie Mandel, Lilly Singh, Kardinal Offishall, and Trish Stratus as judges alongside host Lindsay Ell for its highly-anticipated talent competition, airing exclusively on Citytv and Citytv.com this spring, with catch-up available on Citytv Now.

Bringing his infectious energy, warmth, humour, and a keen eye for astonishing talent, Howie Mandel is one of America’s Got Talent’s star judges with 11 seasons under his belt. He also hosts the weekly podcast Howie Mandel Does Stuff with his daughter Jackelyn Schultz.

Hailing from Scarborough, ON, entertainer, actress, writer and creator Lilly Singh brings passion, creativity, humour, and heart to the judge’s table where she will offer perspective from her own successful self-made journey in the entertainment industry to Canada’s bright new talents.

Award-winning artist, music label executive and producer Kardinal Offishall (affectionately known as Kardi) is a creative force and highly-respected leader in Canada’s music scene, who brings his larger-than-life personality and exceptional ability to seek out Canada’s new wave of superstars.

Rounding out the jury is wrestling Legend and Hall of Famer Trish Stratus, who was named WWE’s #1 Greatest Female Superstar. This Sports Entertainer is also a world-renowned fitness icon, who has inspired generations of people around the world.

Born and raised in Calgary, Lindsay Ell is described as ‘one of the most exciting and talented young artists in country music’ (Forbes). An accomplished musician, vocalist, and awe-inspiring songwriter, Lindsay’s first full-length album The Project was named Billboard’s Best Country Album of the Year (2017) and since then, she has celebrated a #1 U.S. single, two #1 Canadian singles and watched her track ‘wAnt me back’ earn GOLD-certification. Earning the most 2021 CCMA Award nominations of any female, Lindsay has become Canada’s fastest rising country star.

Got Talent is the world’s greatest talent competition, for acts of all ages and sets out to discover the most unique, skilled, heartwarming, and showstopping performers. Dancers, singers, illusionists, comedians, and every imaginable talent in between will compete before celebrity judges, a live studio audience, and the entire nation. At stake is the title of Canada’s Got Talent Champion and a prize beyond their wildest dreams. With compelling stories and mesmerizing performances, this competition is unlike any other.

Canada’s Got Talent is produced by Fremantle, SYCO Entertainment, McGillivray Entertainment Media Inc., in association with Citytv, a division of Rogers Sports & Media. For McGillivray Entertainment Media, Executive Producers are Scott McGillivray, Angela Jennings, and Mike Bickerton, with Showrunner Jonathan Payne.

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Blood and Water: Fire & Ice’s Diane Boehme: “We’re going out on a high note. This is our best season ever”

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the television industry—as it has our lives—into disarray. It hit production of Blood and Water: Fire & Ice particularly hard, splitting the Omni drama’s production in two. That extended break of almost a year meant a loss of some actors to other projects, all of the locations to film in and some crew. But, as Blood and Water: Fire & Ice creator and showrunner Diane Boehme tells it, the pandemic was also a creative blessing.

“I had a chance to sit down and say, ‘You know, I think I’d like to see a little more of this character… what would he think about this, what would she think about that,’ and really catch my breath,” Boehme says. “I think that the series is richer for all of that input and the time we had to implement it. This might be our final season, but by god, we’re going out on a high note. This is our best season ever.” Catching her breath meant a massive re-write and a focus on the locations they did have—in Hamilton and Brantford, Ont.—a story that fit and juggling COVID safety protocol costs. The result, from the first two episodes I’ve seen, has made for an even tighter and engaging story.

Back for a final season Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m. ET on Omni, Blood and Water: Fire & Ice‘s final chapter of eight half-hour episodes follows disgraced former Vancouver cop Michelle Chang (Selena Lee)—now a Toronto-based private detective—as she hunts down Norris Pang (Sean Baek), the man who has kidnapped her daughter. Pang is also the mastermind behind a money laundering scheme happening at the Xie family’s casino, where Anna Xie (Elfina Luk) is attempting to expand the family business, much to her father’s chagrin.

Lee, as Michelle, is mesmerizing to watch. Her eyes emote so much of what Michelle is feeling—the pain of getting close to her daughter, only to have her taken away—and she wields a weapon with the best of them.

“She is so focused, a great leader and a lovely person to work with,” Boehme says. “She is a big star in Asia and I’m glad that our show had a chance to repatriate her back to Canada.”

Blood and Water: Fire & Ice airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on Omni.

Images courtesy of Breakthrough Entertainment.

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Canada’s Got Talent returns with Simon Cowell to headline Citytv’s 2021/22 original programming slate

From a media release:

Add equal parts universally-proven formats, diverse Canadian storytelling, and tremendous talent, garnish with the most dramatic twists (ever!), and serve with a side of serious canine cuteness and you have the perfect mix for Citytv’s 2021/22 original lineup, announced today at the Rogers Sports & Media Upfront.

Citytv is building on the global success of the Got Talent and Bachelor franchises with the launch of Canada’s Got Talent, Bachelor in Paradise Canada, and The Bachelor After Show. And there’s more, with the return of Citytv’s highest-rated original scripted series Hudson & Rex and the newest chapter of OMNI Television’s Blood and Water.

Created by Simon Cowell, the Got Talent franchise holds the Guinness World Records title as the most successful reality TV format, and now Canadians can once again take the stage and hear the golden buzzer as Citytv has commissioned Canada’s Got Talent in partnership with Fremantle, SYCO Entertainment, and McGillivray Entertainment Media Inc. The show begins production this Fall in Niagara Falls, ON, and premieres in Spring 2022 with nine original episodes. Canada’s Got Talent celebrates home-grown hopefuls from across the country as young and old, from every corner of the nation, show the country what they’ve got.

Keep the bubbly flowing, Bachelor Nation. As announced earlier this year, Bachelor in Paradise Canada is coming exclusively to Citytv this Fall, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. ET. The drama continues beyond the rose ceremony with the launch of The Bachelor After Show, airing Sundays at 10 p.m. ET. Hosted by KiSS 92.5’s Deepa Prashad and Daryn Jones, the two will dish on all the juicy gossip and drama from the Bachelor universe – The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise – and across Bachelor Nation.

Citytv’s #1 original scripted hit series Hudson & Rex, which experienced 77% audience growth since Season 1*, is back with more bark as production for Season 4 begins in St. John’s later this month and will air in mid-season. New this year, in partnership with Access Reelworld and Rogers Sports & Media, Citytv announces Level UP, a new mentoring initiative which provides on-the-ground set experience to emerging writers and directors who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour. This year’s program sponsors are Hudson & Rex producers Shaftesbury and Pope Productions, who welcome successful applicants to their set and writers room to shadow the crew, hone their skills, and develop additional training.

On OMNI Television, private detective Michelle Chang (Selena Lee, Forensic Heroes IV, Once More) is back on the case as Blood and Water: Fire & Ice, the original Chinese-Canadian drama, returns for a compelling third and final season, premiering Sunday, June 13 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Season 3 continues the saga of the billionaire Xie family in which Michelle finds surprising allies as she hunts down Norris Pang, the ruthless criminal who kidnapped her daughter. Produced by Breakthrough Entertainment, in association with OMNI Television, the eight 30-minute episodes star Selena Lee, Elfina Luk, Sean Baek, Loretta Yu, Fiona Fu, and Oscar Hsu.

Rounding out Citytv’s original content offering are popular schedule staples Breakfast Television, two-time CSA winner as Best Morning Show, and Cityline, the longest-running and most successful Canadian daytime show for women.

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Second Jen ends after three seasons 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.”

Read the rest of the post.

Over the course of three seasons, Second Jen centred on best friends Jen (Wan) and Mo (Joy) who banded together to tackle life’s ups-and-downs in Toronto.

Nominated for Best Comedy at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, the Season 3 cast included Nile Séguin, Janet Lo, Timothy Lai, Richard Tse, Tina Jung, Isabel Kanaan and Andrew Bushell. Guest stars included Andrew Phung, Ken Hall, Deb McGrath, Kathryn Greenwood, Ann Pornel, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll and Kathleen Phillips.

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