Tag Archives: Sharon Taylor

Jann: Co-creator Leah Gauthier and showrunner Jennica Harper on developing the series and Jann Arden’s star power

During the same week that Daniel and Eugene Levy broke our hearts by announcing the end of their genius mega-hit comedy Schitt’s Creek, another stellar, and very Canadian, comedy debuted.

CTV’s Jann stars iconic singer-songwriter Jann Arden as a mostly fictionalized version of herself. In this alternate universe, Jann is a self-absorbed, down-on-her-luck musician who is desperate to claw her way back into the spotlight—and to get the best of her musical nemesis, Sarah McLachlan. Meanwhile, she’s also dealing (quite badly) with her recent split from long-time girlfriend Cynthia (Sharon Taylor) and her mom’s (Deborah Grover) increasing forgetfulness, a situation that echoes Arden’s real-life experiences with her mother, who passed away from Alzheimer’s in December.  The show is sharp, genuinely funny, and at times, deeply moving. It’s also a show fans of Schitt’s Creek might want to check out to help ease their anticipatory grief.

During a visit to Jann‘s Calgary-based set in October, we spoke with series co-creator Leah Gauthier (Motive) and showrunner Jennica Harper (Cardinal, Motive) about developing the comedy—which airs its second episode, “Go With the Flowga,” on Wednesday—pitting Jann against Canada’s sweetheart McLachlan, and Arden’s immense star quality.

Leah, you co-created the series with Jann Arden. How did that come about?
Leah Gauthier: I’ve worked in television for 10 years, on the factual and reality side of TV, and between two shows, I went on the road with Jann as part of her production team. So we met through work but became fast friends. I did three tours with her, and we’ve always talked about one day when we were both ready, we would pitch a show. It’s changed a lot over the years, and she’s been approached a lot to do television, but it was never the right format. Everyone always wanted her to be like a version of Ellen [DeGeneres] and do a daytime talk show. But we knew we wanted something scripted.

So about three years ago, we sat down in her kitchen and we just wrote it out. It started weird. She was very different versions of herself—she lived in a trailer park or she ran a strip mall—and we kind of pared it down to what it is now. We wrote it together on her kitchen island, and then we flew to Toronto and pitched it, and here we are. It’s almost insane. It took a long time, but now it feels like it happened overnight. It took three years.

What were some of the biggest roadblocks you experienced over that three-year period?
LG: I knew I had obviously something super special with Jann because the country really loves her, so I had a foot in the door because of her. I’m aware that this opportunity would have never have happened for me if not for her being my champion. So my biggest roadblocks were all of the things. Jann busted the roadblocks down, and now I get to do this, and I’m eternally grateful.

You and Jann chose Jennica as your showrunner. What was it about her that really stood out to you?
LG: We interviewed a bunch of different people for the position of showrunner and talking to her on the phone, it was just immediately apparent that she had all of the things that we were lacking. You know, together we made just a perfect, complete human. And she also came into the interview pitching great ideas, like there’s a whole rivalry with Sarah McLachlan that was Jennica’s idea. When she came up with that, we were like, ‘This woman gets us.’ She has the right sense of humour for us, she’s clearly talented and very smart and professional, ‘You’re hired.’

Jennica, you have worked on dramas like Cardinal and also have a background in kids comedy. How has it been working on a primetime comedy aimed at adults?
Jennica Harper: I was very grateful to be working in kids comedy for many years and then I had been developing a number of comedy shows, but it’s hard to get one going here. So I sort of interviewed and pitched my take on the show idea and sort of helped flesh it out. I know very well how lucky I am to be one of the people getting run an adult comedy, a primetime comedy in this country. There’s been very few. So I have no illusions about why I’m here. I’m here because I have the experience and because Jann got us a greenlight. Like, I know how our show got greenlit. I did my best with the scripts, I did my best with the story, but we’re here because we have a star and everyone was like, ‘This is a no-brainer. Let’s put this on TV.’ So I got to sort of ride the train, and now I’m sort of steering the train, but the train belongs to Jann.

I think Jann’s rivalry with Sarah McLachlan on the show is hilarious. Why does fictional Jann hate Sarah? 
JH: Right from the beginning, when I understood that the proposal was to do a fictionalized version of Jann and that she is super flawed and jealous and imperfect and a blurter who thinks about herself first, that immediately came to me. I was like, ‘This is going to be so much fun.’ Because that’s where the comedy is going to come from, it’s going to come from the conflict of her against the world. And sometimes that’s her versus her work, and sometimes it’s her versus her family. So I thought she needed a nemesis, and who is a better Canadian nemesis than, honestly, one of the most hard-to-criticize human beings in the world? Someone who is beautiful with an incredible songwriting ability and a beautiful voice and works for charities and creates music schools for children, that that would be somebody who—if you’re really having fun with a flawed person—you’re like, ‘I hate that perfect person. She’s terrible. How does she get everything and I get nothing?’ That kind of vibe.

The series is very funny, but it also has a serious side, particularly in its treatment of Nora’s dementia. Was it at all difficult to strike a tonal balance between those two elements?
JH: I know it’s going to be a big part of the conversation, so I’ve tried to think really hard about all of the aspects that go into finding that tone, but I think partly what’s helped us has been not to worry too much about it, to accept that we’re going to allow for some more serious moments and to not fight it, to embrace them.

We did know that we were kind of starting in a more comedic place and the season’s going to grow and build into more serious moments, and that was really helpful because we felt we were really earning some of them later, as opposed to trying in the pilot to start with really serious things. We’re not really doing that. We’re keeping it light up front and then hoping we’re bringing the audience along for a journey and that they’re going to come with us to a point where they really love these characters, they’re invested in their lives and they want to see what’s going to happen to them that’s not so perfect. And I also think that, even with the more serious moments in the show, we do allow for those responses that are imperfect and flawed and sometimes even funny. Life takes you to those places and you’re still yourself, you still respond the way you respond.

What has it been like working with Jann?
JH: On Day 1, we were kind of bracing ourselves: Is this going to be good? Is it going to work? It’s such a hard job. Can Jann do the job? And then there was a moment on Day 1 where I was watching and I almost cried because realized that it was so far beyond that. I looked at Leah and said, ‘Oh, my god. I think it might be really good. She’s really good.’ It was really exciting in that moment to realize that you were going to be a part of something special. It is an amazingly collaborative group, and we happen to have top-notch people, and I’m really proud of the scripts. I think that all of our writers have done a great job, they’re really strong scripts. But it would live or die with Jann—and it’s going to shine. She’s a star.

Jann airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Jann Arden taps alter-ego in new original comedy Jann, joining CTV’s midseason schedule beginning March 20

From a media release:

As announced last night during SUPER BOWL LIII, CTV’s all-new original comedy JANN begins streaming Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app beginning March 20. Starring multi-platinum award-winning Canadian singer, songwriter, broadcaster, author, and 2019 Order of Canada recipient Jann Arden as a fictionalized version of herself, the six-episode series JANN is a comedy with heart that bridges fame and family.

While Jann Arden is as talented as ever, in the world of JANN (the series), she’s no longer the household name she once was, and is now dealing with the harsh reality that her former music career is slowly fading away. She plays corporate gigs and community events, like the local farmer’s market, and to make ends meet, Jann lives in the guest house on her own property, while renting out her actual big home to other, more successful people.

The series follows fictional Jann and her somewhat desperate (and hilarious) struggle to find a new audience. To get what she wants, she’ll take career advice from both her old-school manager, and a new manager who wants her as a client — a slick hipster who has fresh ideas that are scary to anyone older than 26.

As Jann is on her quest for renewed fame, she’s also dealing with obligations and pressures from her ‘real’ life. Her mom is beginning to show signs of memory loss and needs someone to look out for her. Her sister is newly (and angrily) pregnant and needs support too. Plus, Jann’s recent ex is moving on, and they’ve committed to being friends…though Jann is still hoping for more. Can Jann stage a comeback and be there for the people who love her?

Starring alongside Arden in JANN are Zoie Palmer (SEX AFTER KIDS, DARK MATTER) as Jann’s sister Max; Deborah Grover (ANNE WITH AN “E”) as Jann’s mom Nora; Patrick Gilmore (TRAVELERS; YOU, ME, HER) as Jann’s brother-in-law Dave; Elena Juatco (OPEN HEART) as Jann’s new manager Cale; Jason Blicker (F/X: THE SERIES) as Jann’s long-time manager Todd; Sharon Taylor (BAD BLOOD) as Jann’s ex-girlfriend Cynthia; Alexa Rose Steele (DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION) as Jann’s eldest niece Charley; Ceilidh MacDonald as Jann’s niece Sam; Keaira Pliva (TIN STAR) as Jann’s niece Frankie, and Donna Godlonton as Jann’s neighbour Rhonda.

Guest stars in the inaugural season of JANN include Canadian indie pop singer-songwriter and guitarist Leslie Feist, Canadian singer and multi-instrumentalist Kiesza, and TV personality Rick Mercer.

On the series premiere of JANN titled “The Big House” (Wednesday, March 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app), musician and former star Jann Arden is having a rough week in both her career and personal life. Her loyal manager screws up her chance at a huge gig, and her ex has decided to move on and see someone else. Things seem to be looking up when a slick new manager comes into Jann’s life, promising to reinvigorate her career. But that might prove challenging now that her mom, showing early signs of memory loss, is moving in with her. The episode is directed by Ron Murphy (WYNONNA EARP, TRAILER PARK BOYS) and guest stars Leslie Feist.

Encore presentations of JANN air Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Set and filmed in Calgary, JANN was co-developed by Bell Media and Project 10 Productions and is produced in association with Project 10 Productions and Seven24 Films.

JANN is executive produced by Andrew Barnsley and Ben Murray for Project 10 Productions, and Tom Cox and Jordy Randall for Seven24 Films. Jann Arden, Leah Gauthier, and Jennica Harper created the series and will also serve as Executive Producers with Jennica Harper Showrunning.

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Kim Coates on Season 2 of Citytv’s Bad Blood: “It’s epic”

When we last left Declan Gardiner, he was alone. Everyone associated with him in Season 1—Vito Rizzuto, Bruno Bonsignori, Gio, Nicolo Rizzuto Sr. and Gio—were dead and someone was, literally, gunning for Declan. In the season finale’s final moments, a gunshot rang out. Was Declan dead?

Nope. Declan is alive and well. And, when viewers meet up with him in Season 2 of Bad Blood—returning Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv—he is still on his own. A lone wolf. Just the way he likes it.

Season 1 of Bad Blood was based on real life, the story on Montreal mob boss Vito Rizzuto (played by Anthony LaPaglia). It was adapted by Simon Barry (Continuum) and Michael Konyves from Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War by Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards. But the sophomore eight instalments, written by Konyves, Alison Lea Bingeman and Patrick Moss, go off in a brand-new direction, following Declan’s adventures.

“There’s no book anymore,” Coates says during an interview earlier this year. “It’s our own highway. It was [Michael Konyves] who said, ‘I think we need to start present-day.’ The last thing we saw was Declan sitting at his cottage, finishing off his book. Bang! Bullet hole. Slow turn. ‘What the fuck is happening?’ You don’t know. So we start five years later. It’s epic.” (Coates has had an epic year or so himself. In addition to a Canadian Screen Award for his role as Declan Gardiner, he won rave reviews and the best actor trophy at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards for his role in Jerusalem.)

Half a decade later, Declan is running his own squad. That, of course, attracts some unwanted attention. Cue a new group of mafiosos from Calabria, Italy, to Canada in the form of twins Teresa (Anna Hopkins) and Christian Langana (Gianni Falcone). Once they arrive, the Langanas present themselves to Hamilton, Ont., brothers Domenic (Louis Ferreira) and Enzo Cosoleto (Daniel Kash) and their sons, Luca (Franco Lo Presti) and Nats (Dylan Taylor). Together, the sextet takes aim at Declan. Meanwhile, the Organized Crime Task Force gets ready to take everyone down with the help of a confidential informant. Although he prefers to work alone, Declan realizes that, in order to remain on top, he’ll need to enlist some help. To do that, he partners with Rose Sunwind (Sharon Taylor).

“My world meets their world and it comes together,” Coates says. “This is going to be bigger than the first season.”

Like Season 1, the second of Bad Blood was filmed in and around Sudbury, Ont., and Montreal. That meant a return to the cold Coates dealt the first time around. And while he hails from Saskatoon, Coates admits the years in Hollywood have had a dampening effect on his endurance with dropping mercury.

“We were in Sudbury and Montreal in November, December, a bit of October,” Coates says with a smile. “We got all kinds of different patterns. We’re all Canadian, but I’m a baby now. I don’t like the cold. I’ve become soft. Don’t tell my buddies.”

Bad Blood airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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Link: Sharon Taylor’s new frontiers

From Sabrina Furminger of YVR Screen Scene:

Link: Sharon Taylor’s new frontiers
“I read the script and thought, ‘Okay, this must be a family business, because it’s normalized in the family to have your kid down there when you’re working on a dead body.’ The child, Marcus, doesn’t even bat an eye when his mom is like, ‘Pass me the blush.’ He’s right in there, helping her.” Continue reading.

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