Tag Archives: Street Legal

Award-winning writer/producer Bruce Smith to lead story room for 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program

From a media release:

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and Bell Media are pleased to welcome one of Canada’s top drama showrunners Bruce Smith as the Executive Producer in Residence of the 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program. From September to December 2019, Smith will lead the story room as well as the six television writers selected to participate in this year’s program as they work together to develop Smith’s original series.

Bruce Smith was most recently creator and showrunner of Street Legal on CBC. Previously, he was the showrunner of CTV’s award-winning drama 19-2 and of Cracked (CBC). Over its four-season run, 19-2 earned more than 30 Canadian Screen Awards nominations, including the win for Best Dramatic Series in 2016, when it was also nominated for an International Emmy in the same category. Additionally, Smith has worked as a writer/producer on numerous dramas, including Durham County (HBO CANADA), and has penned multiple award-winning MOWs and miniseries, including The Sleep Room (CBC), Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story (CBC), The Investigation (CTV), and John A: Birth of a Country (CBC), for which he won a 2013 Canadian Screen Award. Smith has received three WGC Screenwriting Awards, including the WGC Showrunner Award in 2015 and the McGrath Service Award in 2019.

The 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program participants are:

  • Henry Campbell (BC)
  • Imogen Grace (ON)
  • Amy Halloran (QC)
  • Rose Napoli (ON)
  • Lori-Ann Russell (ON)
  • Ian Steaman (ON)

This year’s program begins on September 23, 2019. The Bell Media Prime Time TV Program, now in its 20th year, delivers a real-world story room experience and an intense professional and project development process for six TV writers a year. The program has attracted some of Canada’s most prolific and successful showrunners to lead the story room as Executive Producer in Residence, including Michael MacLennan, Karen Walton, Brad Wright, Dennis Heaton and Alexandra Zarowny. The program has played a vital role in developing numerous hit series through its story room, including Travelers and the Emmy Award-winning series Orphan Black. Learn more about the program here.


Link: Street Legal shocker: CBC hits the ditch before season finale

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: Street Legal shocker: CBC hits the ditch before season finale
Tonight marks the season — and now the series — finale of Street Legal the reboot.

CBC announced over the weekend that the law drama starring original cast member Cynthia Dale would not be returning for a second season.

It was a surprising decision coming as swiftly as it did, but, in my opinion, the right call. Continue reading.


Comments and queries for the week of March 29

I love Murdoch Mysteries and Still Standing (Jonny Harris … what’s not to love?!) So happy with the return of Street Legal and I think Workin’ Moms is one of the best shows on TV. Fingers crossed for their renewals as well. —Steph

I hope Little Dog, Cavendish, Catastrophe, Diggstown and Street Legal are coming back too. —Anne

Season 13 of Murdoch Mysteries is great news! All seasons were interesting with diverse subjects and wonderful acting. I hope that next season the main characters of the show, Detective Murdoch and his beloved wife Dr. Ogden, will return to joint investigations and be in the centre of the plot! —Lilia

I really enjoy Street Legal. I hope it comes back for at least a half season or full season. Best show I have seen in a long time on CBC. —Renny

Burden of Truth, the best Canadian show in a while. —Ted

I’m happy Anne with an E and Heartland are returning, but I’m worried about Workin’ Moms, Diggstown and Street Legal which are all shows I really like. I know ratings aren’t great, but they should be better. I’m also hoping that Northern Rescue finds success when it finally airs on broadcast. I’m really enjoying the CBC Gem app but I wish it was available on Roku. I’m tired of watching it on my computer and for some reason, my phone won’t mirror cast my TV nor will my laptop, which is frustrating. —Alicia

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.


Links: Street Legal, Season 1

From Stephen Cooke of The Herald:

Link: Former Halifax Mooseheads player Steve Lund stars in CBC-TV’s reboot of Street Legal
What’s the difference between a lawyer and a werewolf?

If anybody can come up with a punchline to that setup, it’s Halifax-born actor Steve Lund, who previously bared his canine teeth on the Syfy/Space horror series Bitten, and now trades his full moon fever in for a law degree on CBC-TV’s upcoming revival of its late-’80s/early ‘90s hit Street Legal, premiering on March 4. Continue reading.

From Jennifer Brown of Canadian Lawyer:

Link: Street Legal reboot storyline features law firm meltdown
Appointment viewing is rare these days, but class action lawyers and fans who remember CBC’s Street Legal may want to put a reminder in the calendar for March 4. Continue reading.

From Norman Wilner of Now Toronto:

Link: TV review: Street Legal reboot is slicker, sharper and more focused than the soapy original
A quarter of a century after it went off the air, Street Legal is back on CBC – though I’m not exactly sure who was asking for it. This is just how it is now: everything we vaguely remember from the 90s will be brought back for another shot. At least this reboot understands that the world is different, and adapts to new realities. Continue reading. 

From Tony Wong of the Toronto Star:

Link: Cynthia Dale says new Street Legal is no nostalgia trip
“What is it like to be a woman closer to the end of her career than the beginning? You have different hopes and dreams. You have more opinion but also more fears. She walks into this new rock-star boutique firm. And she has a daughter who is in her mid twenties who she is trying to have a relationship with. All of that plays into who Olivia is today.” Continue reading. 

From Eric Volmers of the Calgary Herald:

Link: Calgary actress Yvonne Chapman lands main role in CBC’s Street Legal reboot
Yvonne Chapman’s shifting career aspirations must have been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for her parents.

She is an actress about to enjoy her highest profile role yet in the CBC reboot of the long-running 1980s-1990s drama Street Legal, playing a crusading lawyer named Mina Lee who takes on Big Pharma over the opioid crisis. Continue reading. 

From Melissa Buote of The Coast:

Link: #iconic: Cynthia Dale
“She was still in my DNA. She was in there; I just hadn’t turned my gaze on her in so long. But she was there. And she’s still a very powerful lawyer, she still has all the moxie, all the passion, all the aggression, all the smarts, all the brains that she had then. And now it’s ten-fold with the veil of all that history and insecurity and not giving a shit that happens when you get older.” Continue reading.

From Galen Simmons of the Stratford Beacon Herald:

Link: Cynthia Dale returns 25 years later to classic role in Street Legal reboot
“I’d never, in a million years, thought this could, or would, or should happen, but they asked me. It took me a few minutes to get my jaw off the floor, and then it was like, ‘Ya, why not? Sure. Absolutely.’” Continue reading. 

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: REVIEW: CBC’s Street Legal
This slick reboot sees Dale reprise her role as Olivia Novak, now Bay Street Legal and still fit and feisty in her fifties as a partner in a bigger, nastier law firm. In the pilot, she still wears the power heels and knows how to use them but eventually gets tripped up in a power struggle at her firm. Continue reading.

From Melissa Hank of Canada.com:

Link: Cynthia Dale says rebooting Street Legal was “a wild ride”
“It was a wild ride. It was a gift. I didn’t realize that Olivia’s in my DNA. I didn’t have to look too far. It’s not like we picked up where we left off — we picked up exactly where we would be 27 years later. I hadn’t thought about her really, or even considered entertaining the possibility of revisiting her ever in those 27 years, so to find out that she was still there was really a joy.” Continue reading. 

From Charles Trapunski of Brief Take:

Link: Interview: Street Legal’s Cynthia Dale, Cara Ricketts, Steve Lund, Yvonne Chapman and Eric Peterson
“It’s an entirely new story. It’s really built in the reality of the world today. Yes, we are following Olivia 20 years later, but it’s the stories of now. It’s the show of now, and how young professionals are now versus before and in my opinion completely different—while still honouring what was done in the past.” Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Street Legal: 3 Reasons to watch the new CBC drama
After a 25-year break, CBC is bringing back the drama Street Legal with original cast member Cynthia Dale once again front and center as Olivia Novak. This time around though, Olivia finds herself working with a trio of young lawyers at the newly created startup firm RDL Legal.  Continue reading. 

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Street Legal’s Cara Ricketts on playing a rock star litigator
“Lilly Rue is a little bit of a rock star. She’s well-educated and has studied at Oxford. Because of those book smarts she’s overly confident, to the point of being at fault in her personal life. We get to see how free-wheeling she is, but at the same time how much a do-gooder she is and tries to take care of her family, friends and community.” Continue reading. 

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Steet Legal’s Yvonne Chapman on the passion that drives Mina
“Mina is the one who actually starts RDL firm. She’s incredibly smart, introspective and a really intelligent and sharp lawyer. She’s more introverted and someone who doesn’t need to shout ‘hey! Look at me!’ That’s just not how she is, but unfortunately, working in the corporate world, it’s the ones who make the most noise who get the most reward.” Continue reading. 


CBC’s Street Legal returns, grittier and great, thanks to Bruce M. Smith

It was amid the flurry of U.S. television show remake announcements—Roseanne and Murphy Brown specifically—that news dropped. The CBC was bringing Street Legal into the 21st century after a 25-year break. While some bemoaned the news, one name jumped out at me: Bruce M. Smith. I had high hopes. After all, Smith is the guy behind 19-2, a series I dearly loved. If anyone could reboot a series, I thought, it was him.

I was right. Yes, the original DNA—and original cast member Cynthia Dale (Eric Peterson and Anthony Sherwood will make guest appearances)—of Street Legal is there, but that’s where the similarities end. This Street Legal has morphed with the times.

When viewers tune in on Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC, they’ll catch up with Olivia Novak (Dale) and meet a new trio of lawyers in Lilly Rue (Cara Ricketts), Adam Darling (Steve Lund) and Mina Lee (Yvonne Chapman). The young upstarts beat Olivia to the punch when they take on a pharmaceutical company churning out highly addictive opioids. That storyline will fill this season’s six-episode arc, but as Smith told me, he expects this to be the jumping off point for more seasons.

How did Street Legal come to be?
Bruce M. Smith: The CBC approached Bernie [Zuckerman] and me about rebooting Street Legal with Cynthia Dale attached. That was the core concept. I met with Cynthia, and thought right away, ‘This character’s a lot more interesting at 58 than 28.’ That’s really the core of why I could see value in it. It seemed like a smart move from the CBC. The brand has value.

I was really interested in that, in taking that character and looking at her now. The same character, 25 years later, and then building a new show around that. What Street Legal was to its audience when it premiered, which was pushing the envelope or the box of Canadian TV. They were doing serialized stuff. They were doing controversial issues, and not necessarily wrapping them up with neat bows. They were doing character-driven soapy stuff in an adult format, and a law show, which was relatively new at the time. Certainly on Canadian TV. Unlike doing Murphy Brown or Roseanne, the idea was not necessarily to do the full nostalgia cash in, and I was always worried about nostalgia being a bit of a danger to the show.

It was great if the new show had its own identity, but if you were relying on it, then the why question is a very legitimate question. The experience was, this is a really new show. I tried to build it in a way that it would say right in the first two minutes, ‘Oh, OK, this isn’t quite the same Street Legal.

I noticed that Olivia never references her past. Was that a conscious decision?
BMS: That was really specific to the pilot. What I was doing was putting her in a situation where there are things right in front of her that are the most important to her. This case, then her firm, but it was by no way an, ‘Oh no, we’re going to ignore the past.’ No, she’s carrying it with her. Everything that happened in Street Legal is baggage for this character. It shows in her relationships, the cases she did. They’re not going to come up unless it’s relevant in the present. One of the things I did, Greg, which really excited me about this, was when CBC said, ‘We want to do Street Legal, six hours,’ I thought, ‘Well, OK. That really affects how I do it,’ because the old Street Legal was this Friday night sit down. Turn off your brain a little bit. Well, you can’t do that for six hours. I really embraced the idea of doing a six-hour pilot.

Six hours is really a mini-series, limited-run format. I wanted to do something really serialized. I’m going to start by doing a six-hour pilot. I’ve got six hours to earn the series coming back in the future, and to earn the new show. The pilot that you’ve seen, that’s Olivia’s show. By Hour 6, it’s everybody’s show. It’s an ensemble. There are four characters, but Olivia’s totally our way in.

I love that you’re going into this with the attitude of six episodes is just a way into more of this project. 
BMS: I think that’s right, and I think if you’re being given Street Legal, and you only get one season, you failed. I have to accept that for myself as a bar. I’ve been trying to make something worth renewing from Day 1, absolutely.

How did you come up with the idea for the drug and the court case being the core of this set of episodes?
BMS: Again, I thought six hours was a really great format to talk about something as complex as opioids, and chronic pain. That’s something we can’t do justice to in a story of the week, and with this six-hour pilot idea, maybe it’s really common, but I had never heard of it before, so I sort of ran with it. That lets you approach it different ways week to week. The idea of exploring it not just through court, but through this character of Adam Darling’s mother, who is the heart of the show, that’s the idea. It’s not in court, it’s in the human toll of the cost. That’s also a lesson for how to build a law show and get emotional payoffs, as opposed to just satisfying resolutions.

It just felt like a really good, deep, complex topic, that was appropriate to what Street Legal originally promised, which was that it would take on complex issues, and not necessarily wrap them up in a week. I really felt I had stuff to say about all these, as an artist, and you’ll see, by the end of the six episodes. It’s interesting where it goes. It has something to say as a show, that’s not just opioids are dangerous and pharma companies are greedy. Those things we get.

Can you say what your future plans are for the show?
BMS: I hope to get a pickup and then go make the next season. I have a story in mind. These characters are really designed with places to go and stories to go through, so they’re keyed up to go through some things, regardless of what cases they’re working on. For me, it’s continuing those character arcs.

Street Legal airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC and streaming on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.