Tag Archives: Sharron Matthews

Frankie Drake Mysteries: Rebecca Liddiard previews Season 4 and joining the writer’s room

The arrival of Season 4 of Frankie Drake Mysteries brings changes. When viewers tune in this Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC, they’ll notice a couple of things. As the show advances further into the 1920s the wardrobe and hair sported by Frankie (Lauren Lee Smith), Trudy (Chantel Riley), Mary (Rebecca Liddiard) and Flo (Sharron Matthews) are changing to reflect that. So, too, are the characters themselves, with professional advancement for Flo and personal for Trudy, Frankie and Mary.

Changes were afoot behind the scenes on Frankie too, something I learned while speaking to Rebecca Liddiard. She joined the Frankie Drake Mysteries writer’s room in Season 4, which she and I discussed, along with upcoming storylines and the upcoming animated series Mary and Flo: On the Go!

How did COVID-19 affect the filming of Frankie Drake?
Rebecca Liddiard: I actually found, overall, it didn’t really change very much. I’m sure there was a lot more going on behind the scenes, but from our perspective, yeah, we had to wear masks, we had to check in and have our temperature checked every day. There’s a lot more hand sanitizer, but other than that, you know, it seems to me like business as usual. Every once in a while there was a moment of panic. You know, there’s a lot of people in a room or, you know, there’s a lot of, it seems like things are getting relaxed, there are people without masks on, but for the most part, everyone is trying to keep each other safe, no one wanted to get sick. So once we get settled into that, you know, we’re off to the races.

Do you know whether any storylines changed as a result of the pandemic and you filmed outdoors more often than in the studio?
RL:  I do, because I was also a part of the writing team here. I co-wrote an episode with [showrunner] Peter Mitchell, actually.

So I was privy to a few of the changes that were made. It was pretty basic things, like the number of people in the scene had to be reduced. The thinking was, if there were four people in this scene, then there can be three people. If there are three people, then there can be two people. There was a lot more dialogue between two people and the scenes got extended. We also had more recurring characters this year, which seems a bit strange. But when you think about it, it just meant that we could put these actors on hold and ask them not to do other jobs and they were coming in regularly. So we just kind of expanded that core group of people that we had trust with.

Was being part of the writing team on Frankie Drake a result of Mary and Flo: On the Go? Did Mary and Flo: On the Go come first and then the episode?
RL: I had an idea for an episode last season and I spent a couple of weeks coming up with a treatment. I went to Pete and I said, ‘I’ve got an idea, what do I do?’ He said, ‘Give me your idea.’ So I did, and they kind of sat on it for a while. That would have been like August, September, and then during this time, Mary and Flo started developing. So right when we started the writer’s room on Mary and Flo, which was early March, I had just found out that indeed I was going to be joining the writing team on Frankie. Within a week I suddenly found myself being a writer.

Has writing been something that you wanted to do and that you’ve been doing while you’ve been acting?
RL: I’ve always been a writer. Honestly, I never thought it would be something that I would do professionally. If anything I have this kind of dream of maybe getting into directing someday and I never really thought about writing. And then I had this idea for Frankie and it turned out to have some legs and everyone was really excited about it. It was like, ‘Oh, I think I can do this. I know how mysteries work. Surprise, surprise. I’ve only been doing it for four years now.’ It was a good surprise for me. I mean, it was difficult. It was a very steep learning curve, but Pete Mitchell was my co-writer and he was a great mentor and he made it pretty easy. He was very supportive and let me do my thing and solve my own problems. When I got really stuck, he jumped in and got me unstuck. It’s kind of opened up this door that I didn’t realize it was there.

Let’s get into Mary and Flo. You and Sharron co-created this. It is nine episodes of seven minutes each. Is that right?
RL: Yes.

Was it the result of the two of you just kicking around ideas while you were at craft services or just in between takes?
RL: Pretty much just what you described. I mean, on Frankie, Mary and Flo have a habit of going off and doing kind of these sort of side ventures that supplement the story, and which Sharron and I love, and over the years we’ve kind of increasingly made meals at these adventures that will go on and we just thought, ‘You know, we’re kind of joking around, but it would make a really fun cartoon. Like what if these adventures were like proper adventures?’ There’s a third co-creator named Carmen Albano. He was our prop master. He worked on props on Frankie and he came up with the first session of the first images of Mary and Flo.

We finally sat down around this time last year and we’re like, ‘Let’s talk about this what could this be?’ Carmen has created a couple of really successful children’s shows. Sharron and I had all these ideas and Carmen was the one who really helped focus them and helped give us that structure. The three of us made a really, really great team.

What can people expect when they tune in to watch Mary and Flo: On the go?
RL: Each episode, Mary and Flo go on an adventure and in Season 1, we kept it all to Canada. That doesn’t mean they can’t go to other places, we just found lots to do in Canada for this season, and they meet a historical figure. Sometimes it’s a historical figure who’s well-known—for example, we meet Lucy Maud Montgomery in one episode—and sometimes it’s historical figures that are lesser-known, but we would argue equally as important or as influential or exciting to Canadian history and they help this person solve a mystery or solve a problem. Our show is history, mystery, ancestry. So there’s a historical element. There’s always a mystery and there’s always an aspect of helping someone out of a jam and helping them go on their way to be whoever they are going to be.

Can you give me a peek into the Frankie episode you wrote?
RL: I really wanted to write an episode about Martha Graham because I have always been a Martha Graham fan and I just think as a personality, she’s very Frankie. She’s exactly the kind of woman that would fit into this world. I was reading her autobiography and she talks about having to work and perform as a dancer even when you’re really, really sick and how it’s such a difficult life. I just came up with this idea regarding the Spanish flu. So I was like, ‘That would be like a high stakes, super dramatic plot point.’ It was already in the works in the fall, so when everything happened in March …. hopefully it’s not too on the nose. I mean it is impossible to escape, but you know, hopefully, we did a nice job of kind of combining this very topical element but with some more, and deeper rooted, human aspects of the characters in Frankie and the dance world and everything else. Hopefully, it’s not too blunt.

What can you say about Mary’s journey over this fourth season?
RL: I really loved Mary’s story this season. I mean, she’s always so much fun, she is just continuing on her journey of growing up and becoming the woman that she is going to become. Not that Mary is childish in any way, but I think when we first met her in Season 1, she’s sort of naive. She thought she knew what she wanted and she thought she knew what was right and wrong. And over the last three seasons, we’ve seen that change and you seeing her worldview grow and that just continued this season. And I think a few things happened in the season that I don’t think Mary would have been able to handle in Season 1. As an actor, I’m proud of her that she’s doing these things.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Frankie Drake Mysteries: Lauren Lee Smith reflects on Frankie’s evolution

Anyone who watches television knows the evolution of a series is ongoing. Writers give characters tweaks as they get to know the actors involved. Story arcs change. A secondary character can grow because of on-screen chemistry. In the case of Frankie Drake Mysteries, two showrunners in two years and actress Lauren Lee Smith’s changing look has made the series somewhat uneven.

Now, the program feels as though it truly has found its stride with Peter Mitchell as showrunner, gorgeous opening credits and Frankie’s blonde hair. Throw in the genuine chemistry between Frankie (Smith), Trudy (Chantel Riley), Mary (Rebecca Liddiard) and Flo (Sharron Matthews), and Frankie is revving on all cylinders.

We spoke to Lauren Lee Smith about all of that and more.

Congratulations on Season 3.
Lauren Lee Smith: Thank you. Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. I feel like it’s like a whirlwind. I can’t believe where we’re premiering Season 3. It feels like yesterday that we were premiering Season 1. It’s been a quick, a quick three years.

And with that has come change. There’s, there’s Frankie’s hair, the opening credits, and then behind the scenes with Peter Mitchell as the showrunner. What was your reaction to, to having him be named as the showrunner for Season 3?
LLS: Well, we are very fortunate to have Pete come on board. He’s the man, he knows what he’s doing better than anyone in this country. And, and to have him come on board, especially last-minute, we were super fortunate and lucky to have someone of his calibre come on and, and help helm the show.

Does the blonde hair stay through the third season?
LLS: It does. And I think we’ve nailed Frankie’s look. In Season 1 they sort of had this image that someone found and it was with this red hair. Very cool. And we tried it. I’m not naturally a redhead. Maintaining red hair was extremely difficult, especially keeping the style. That made it very difficult for everyone. It was very time consuming for everyone. My hair started to fall out.

So Season 2 we’re like, ‘OK, maybe we’ll try a wig.’ Right. That again added about an hour and a half to my day each day, and you’re already dealing with it a 14-hour day. That’s a lot of extra time to add to a day. And also, we were very limited in terms of how I could move with it, and if you’d be able to see it. It was one of those things where everyone’s like, ‘You know, you’re naturally a blonde. We’d love you as a blonde.’ Why didn’t that, why wasn’t that ever sort of…

Three women stand in a morgue.It sort of goes with the original idea that we had of this character anyway, which is a little bit more of a tomboy, a little bit more ahead of her time, a little bit more androgynous and ready to take on action and not be so girly girl. We tried a few different styles. We, we did a bunch of hair makeup tests and, and then everyone just sort of agreed, wait a minute, I think this is sort of the Frankie, that we all, we all envisioned her to be in the first place.

In the first episode, Frankie is in London. How long did you film there?
LLS: We did two full days in the UK and we took advantage of those two days. They were full days. We were all over the city. It was incredible. It was surreal to shoot at The Savoy. That alone was, I think worth it. We can shoot a lot here in Toronto and the outskirts of Toronto, but I think actually being in London and not having to sort of use green screen and, and, and have those actual locations, just it makes the episodes so, so much bigger.

As a fan of Foyle’s War, when Honeysuckle Weeks’ name jumped out, I was pretty excited. 
LLS: I was so stoked to be getting to work with her. I think she’s incredible. And then I met her on the first day I was just like, ‘Oh my god. Okay. This is amazing.’ She’s so down to earth and so lovely and so talented and such a fun energy to work off of. We had an absolute blast and she got to come over to Toronto for a week and shoot here with us.

This group of women, they’re just so tight now. They get along so well. The show just oozes fun.
LLS: We’re not faking the friendship. We actually are all really tight and we’re all really close and we hang out outside of work and we adore each other and we’re all so different. It’s a natural chemistry that we have in the scenes and the times that we do get to all be there together. You can’t really fake that stuff.

Can you give me a little bit of a teaser into some of the storylines or maybe a major story arc this season?
LLS: We have a really exciting story arc coming up early on in the season where we delve into Frankie’s personal life and she’s thrown for a loop yet again by some personal stuff that she had no idea about and perhaps a new person in her life that she was not aware of. So that’s pretty cool and very, very different. And it’s definitely something that when I read I was like, ‘What? OK, where are we going with this?’ So that’s really exciting. And then we, you know, there’s lots of really fun stuff. Again, we have Wendy Crewson, who plays Nora. There are lots of really interesting beats with that. We have some, we have a few familiar faces who, who will pop up again who we haven’t seen maybe since Season 1, which was really fun.

And again, it’s always interesting incorporating actual people into our show and we definitely do that in Season 3.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Winnifred Jong explores diversity and inclusion in Tokens

With diversity and inclusion hot-button topics, Tokens couldn’t be more timely. Or scathingly on point.

Created by Winnifred Jong, the digital series—available online now—skewers representation in the entertainment industry through Tokens on Call, a casting agency that sends over actors of any stripe to a production in dire need of someone to fill a role. Whoever happens to be on call is sent, fulfilling the diversity quota for that project.

“This is a commentary on the fact that, because there are so many choices for every role, people tend to bring in people that they know,” Jong says during a recent phone call. “Until you try to create a change in the dynamic, there is no change.” For Sammie Pang (Connie Wang), that means being cast as a well-built tattooed bouncer who takes out her enemies using kung fu. Written, directed and produced by Jong and produced by Trinni Franke, the eight-part series stars a plethora of familiar faces in Sharron Matthews, Daniel Maslany, Shelley Thompson, Jonathan Cherry, Christina Song, Russell Yuen and Amy Matysio as members of Sammie’s family of part of the productions she works on.

Three people sit on a couch, side by side, wearing the same clothes.One of the most outrageous scenes in Tokens finds Sammie, Demar (Ryan Allen) and Vasant (Gabe Grey) playing triplets in a scene. It’s giggle-inducing and outrageous and part of Jong’s commentary.

Known for directing episodes of Coroner and Private Eyes, the Frankie Drake digital series A Cold Case and Global’s upcoming medical drama, Nurses, Jong has been juggling making Tokens between paying gigs, and called on favours from actors to help her make it. She cast Matthews—the two worked together when Jong was a script supervisor on Frankie Drake Mysteries—after sending the flame-haired actress all eight episode scripts and letting her choose her favourite role.

“I told her, ‘If you want any role, you can have it,'” Jong recalls. “She came back and said, ‘I’d like to be Director No. 2.”

Season 1 of Tokens is available online now.

Images courtesy of A Token Entertainment Company.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Thom Allison and Sharron Matthews named co-hosts of the upcoming CAFTCAD Awards

From a media release:

People are either born hosts or born guests (thank you, Max Beerbohm). Thom Allison and Sharron Matthews were most definitely born hosts which is why they will take to the stage at the Aga Khan Museum on Sunday, February 10th to head up the inaugural Canadian Alliance of Film & Television Costume Arts & Design (CAFTCAD) Awards.

“If we are going to do an awards gala, then we are going to do it right. Thom and Sharron bring a triumphant spirit to this event and we are thrilled to have them on this very special night,” said Joanna Syrokomla, Chairman of the CAFTCAD Awards.

Two-time Dora nominee, Thom Allison, can be seen as ‘Pree’ in the hit series, Killjoys, on Space Channel/Syfy Network. Thom has appeared on Broadway in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and in the original Canadian companies of Miss Saigon, The Who’s Tommy and Rent. At the Stratford Festival, Thom has appeared in Romeo and Juliet, Pericles, Threepenny Opera, The King and I, Hello, Dolly and King Henry VIII, and Into the Woods. At the Shaw Festival, he received critical acclaim for his performance in Ragtime, as well as performing in Wonderful Town, A Little Night Music, Guys and Dollsand Follies: In Concert. Some other credits include The Drowsy Chaperone(Vancouver Playhouse, National Arts Centre, Citadel Theatre), OUTRAGEOUS(CanStage), Cabaret (Theatre Calgary), My Fair Lady (Manitoba Theatre Centre), Evita (Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre Calgary), Elegies, A New Brain (Acting Up Stage) and Take Me Out (CanStage). Film/TV: Judge on CBC’s Over the Rainbow, Leaving Metropolis, I Me Wed, Road to Christmas, Kim’s Convenience, Murdoch Mysteries, Private Eyes, Your All-Time Classic Hit Parade. Directing: Seussical, Mary Poppins (YPT). His CD, “A Whole Lotta Sunlight” can be purchased on iTunes.

Award-winning actress, writer, singer, producer Sharron Matthews is one of the stars of the CBC’s hit TV drama Frankie Drake Mysteries, airing on OVATION and PBS in the United States and ALIBI in the UK. She has toured her highly acclaimed one-woman shows around the world from New York to London to Cape Town, has acted in movies with stars like Tina Fey (Mean Girls) and John Travolta (Hairspray: The Movie), written for newspapers and magazines across the globe, sung with Canadian icon Jann Arden, and performed on stages alongside comedy legends Mary Walsh and Andrea Martin. As if that wasn’t enough, Sharron is also the host of the CBC digital series, “The Mystery Of…”.

The CAFTCAD Awards will take place on Sunday, February 10, 2019 at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.

ABOUT CAFTCAD 
Formed in 2008the Canadian Alliance of Film & Television Costume Arts & Design (CAFTCAD) is an association of individuals interested in promoting costume design for film, television and media from both an artistic and technical perspective. Our goal is to enrich our community with a national organization that is inclusive of experience and talent. The Alliance provides an open forum for discussion, networking and knowledge sharing for our members through periodic seminars, workshops, exhibits and an online forum. We explore the areas of individual design approach, illustration, and advancements in film technologies. We celebrate the richness of historic and contemporary fashion and its relationship to our craft. Our vision is to increase awareness and the value of costume arts and design as a powerful element in the collaborative process of filmmaking; furthering international recognition of the creative talent we have in Canada.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Link: Frankie Drake Mysteries’ Sharron Matthews on why Flo was “meant to be”

From Kelly Townsend of The TV Junkies:

Link: Frankie Drake Mysteries’ Sharron Matthews on why Flo was “meant to be”
“Some characters you read and you go, ‘I can play that.’ Then there are some characters you read and say, ‘Oh, that’s me,’ I literally put my suitcase in the middle of the smallest hotel room in the world, I put a toaster container on top of it, I leaned my iPhone on it, and did a self-tape.” Continue reading.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail