Tag Archives: TV

Bomb Girls’ Michael MacLennan on his WGC Screenwriting Award Nomination

MichaelMacLennan

This year’s Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award winners will be announced on April 22. We’ve been catching up with many of the writers nominated in the comedy and drama categories. Bomb Girls‘ Michael MacLennan was nominated for his episode “Jumping Tracks.”

Can you describe the episode “Jumping Tracks” and how it fit into the Bomb Girls season?

“Jumping Tracks” is the first episode of the series, establishing the “world” of the show, setting up the central characters and their various interconnections, and beginning the major themes, conflicts and storylines that launch the show, garner an audience, and serve as a blueprint for the episodes to come.  In other words, there’s a lot that goes into those 50 pages!

What was the biggest triumph in this particular episode?

Triumph?  Hm, I’d have to say two: when Lorna, a modestly educated, working-class woman, finds the courage to stand up to a doctor in order to protect one of her girls (Vera) and give her top-tier medical treatment reserved for soldiers.  And in a different light, I’d say the moment when Gladys decides to accept a marriage proposal from Lewis, a man she barely met, before he goes overseas, likely never to be seen again.  There’s something about how she elects to boldly give comfort and bolstering to this fellow — and in so doing, offers us — and herself — an inkling of just what she’s capable of.

What does this recognition mean to you?

It’s huge.  It’s the one opportunity for the script to be recognized AS a script, and given all the thinking and writing that’s gone into it, it means a great deal, especially since it is, as they say, a jury of one’s peers.

Bomb Girls is airing its second season on Global on Monday nights. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Denis McGrath on his WGC Screenwriting Award Nomination for Less Than Kind

DenisMcGrathThis year’s Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award winners will be announced on April 22. We’ve been catching up with many of the writers nominated in the comedy and drama categories. Denis McGrath was nominated for his episode of Less Than Kind, “Danger, Wrestling.”

Can you describe the episode “Danger, Wrestling” and how it fit into the Less Than Kind season?

It’s actually part of the “lost” 3rd season. As most people know, our beloved Sam Blecher, the great Maury Chaykin, passed away while we were writing Season 3. I wrote the first draft of “Danger, Wrestling” with a B-Plot featuring Sam. That had to be rewritten by the room eventually — and by that point I was on another show.  I went with my draft, which had some elegiac stuff with Sam that obviously, we weren’t able to use.

Other than that there’s fun stuff of Josh auditioning talent for his acting school — and Sheldon discovers the joys of wrestling.

What was the biggest triumph in this particular episode?

Well there’s two answers to that. Obviously for the show, the fact that they rallied and got the whole season made as a tribute to Maury and wound up with a beautiful exploration of how a family moves through grief — that’s so much greater than any individual contribution, and a testimony to the talent of Mark McKinney, the creators Marvin (Kaye) & Chris (Sheasgreen), and the team they put together.

But personally? I don’t write a lot of comedy … I’m mostly a drama writer. When I was considering whether to enter the script — I have to thank Karen Hill for that — I reread it for the first time in two years and really laughed. There’s  a wonderful subplot about Sam tracing the ups and downs of a piece of stock — and him coming to terms with selling it (for the same amount he bought it for 30 years ago) — but it’s really about him coming to terms with feeling his sons will be okay without him. I’d like to think that my strength as a drama writer is a light touch, and as a comedy writer, I go for the big cry. That’s a little messed up, isn’t it?

What does this recognition mean to you?

So much. I love LTK. It’s employed some of my best friends. Working on the show brought my fiancee and I together. I came from a family that yelled, with love … so I recognize those characters. I’ve had an incredibly lucky career and after winning a WGC Award for writing a drama show, it’s humbling and exciting to get nominated for comedy. And it’s a recognition by my writer peers, and that is incredibly important to me.

If there is one Canadian show that is no longer on the air that you could see honoured at this year’s awards, what would it be? (If you have a specific episode, even better).   

For the love of God, why has CBC not done a Street Legal reunion/reboot movie? I miss Chuck and Olivia. I can’t be alone on that one. But the truth is — they ALL should be honoured. From Wojeck to DaVinci to Intelligence to the first 30 years of Citytv we have made, and continued to make, wonderful TV in Canada. I think it’s sad that we only note that when the New York Times or some American publication says so.

There are such strong nominees this year. So many great scripts. I am so jazzed to be among that talent. Maybe I can make a go of this writing thing.

Less Than Kind is entering into its fourth and final season on The Movie Network/Movie Central in 2013. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Esta Spalding on her WGC Screenwriting Award Nomination for Saving Hope

Esta SpaldingThis year’s Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award winners will be announced on April 22. We’ve been catching up with many of the writers nominated in the comedy and drama categories. Saving Hope‘s Esta Spalding was nominated for her episode “Bea, Again”.

Can you describe the episode “Bea, Again” and how it fit into the Saving Hope season?

The episode “Bea, Again” was the episode of Saving Hope that came after the three week break the series had taken so that CTV could air the Olympics.  Right before the break, in episode 8, there was a very big cliffhanger:  Charlie (a lead character who has been in a coma since the first episode and has been walking around the hospital as a ghost) is unplugged from life support.  Alex, his fiancee, is devastated.  In my episode, Charlie has to survive this process.  The plug is pulled in episode 8, but he needs to be hanging between life and death and only declared alive at the end of episode 9.  Now, in real life, once the plug is pulled you either live or die.  So the challenge was to make that process last for a TV-hour without having it last for an actual hour.  I also knew that dramatically Alex needed to be with Charlie, at his bedside, but that the show’s mandate was for her to have a high-stakes medical case each week. How could I do both things?  It was such a strange, challenging crossword puzzle.  Maybe because of my background as a poet, I found all of the limitations really energizing and I came up with a very fun structure and story.

What does this recognition mean to you?

This recognition means so much to me.  There’s no higher honor than to be honored by your peers — your fellow writers in the trenches. I am thrilled to have been nominated.

If there was one Canadian show that is no longer on the air that you could see honored at this year’s awards, what would it be? (If you have a specific episode, even better).

I’ve been watching Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom show on HBO and thinking how much better Semi Chellas’s Eleventh Hour was.  There was always great critical acclaim for that show, but I wish that show had found a larger audience while it was on the air.  It’s a show I’d still be happy to be writing for, all these years later.

Saving Hope season one airs Saturday nights on CTV Two. Season two is slated to air this summer.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Continuum’s Simon Barry on his WGC Screenwriting Award Nomination

SimonBarry

This year’s Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award winners will be announced on April 22. We’ve been catching up with many of the writers nominated in the comedy and drama categories. First up, Continuum‘s Simon Barry, nominated for his episode “End Times.”

Can you describe the episode “End Times” and how it fit into the Continuum season?

“End Times” brings together many of the threads we set up in season one and resolves them while also setting up new questions and threads that carry over into season two. It also sets up some new characters and some new dynamics for established characters.

What was the biggest triumph in this particular episode?

I’m not sure there was anything worthy of the description “triumph.” I could say that one of the goals was to find the balance between a satisfying finale and an intriguing tease. I think we accomplished that goal and challenged ourselves to make an entertaining episode.

What does this recognition mean to you?

It’s great to be recognized by fellow writers who appreciate how difficult it is to get ideas from your imagination onto the page and then on screen intact. It’s great that a new show has found support in the first year and I hope we can live up to the expectations of the audience and my fellow Guild brothers and sisters.

If there was one Canadian show that is no longer on the air that you could see honoured at this year’s awards, what would it be? (If you have a specific episode, even better).

SCTV – one of my favorite all time shows. The episode where they parodied Ingmar Bergman was sublime brilliance.

Continuum is currently in production on season two, which will premiere on Showcase on April 21, 2013.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Almost Live at the Canadian Screen Awards

(photos by Derek Langer)

MartinShort2_zps6719b3d2

I spent last Sunday night in the press room at the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards. It was quite the night for Canada. The Sony Centre in downtown Toronto was at capacity with Canadian celebs, writers, directors and producers. The two hour broadcast aired on CBC in staggered time slots across the country, with a half hour of red carpet hosted by Shaun Majumder.

Majumder_zps1ed5a7c3

This was followed by an hour and a half of Martin Short singing show tunes and cracking one-liners. Oh yeah, I think we gave away a few awards in there too.

The biggest question surrounding the event has perhaps been what to nickname the actual award. While some felt that a nickname would present itself as Canadians talked over the event, others believed a nickname should be chosen and presented to the media as the “official nickname” of the awards. Twitter was ablaze with suggestions and theories over what the nickname should be. When I asked the winners and presenters I heard everything from the obvious “Screenie” to the more imaginative “Candy,” “Geminini,” “Ceesah,” “Huggy,” and “Awardy.” It’s safe to say that by the fifth broadcast one nickname will have broken ahead of the pack.

This was the first year that the film-based Genies and the TV-based Geminis merged into one meta-broadcast. While the ratings were up from last year’s Geminis by over 75%, there was some question about whether the separate ceremonies should have been combined at all.

With two industry galas preceding the main event, a plethora of the awards were given out earlier in the week, saving some of the audience favorites for the televised broadcast on Sunday night. While the members of the Academy worked hard to pare down the categories into a manageable amount, they didn’t quite cover everything. Writer/director Sarah Polley requested categories for crew contributors at next year’s event.

DragonsDen_zpsbdc3bd4f

On the subject of combining the two awards shows, Kevin O’Leary (Dragon’s Den) was all for it. He agreed that combining film and tv was the smartest thing to do, creating a wider audience, building ratings and  inspiring a higher level of awareness for Canadian productions.  Spoken like a true Dragon.

A show this big doesn’t happen without its fair share of controversy. This year’s malcontent came courtesy of several decisions that surprised the audience and ruffled a few feathers. The hot-button issue was CBC’s choice to stagger the broadcasts across different timezones. While this is a classic fight between coasts, staggering this event handcuffed media to one of two realities: hold off on live tweets, announcing the winners, and posting photos until the last broadcast was airing, or spoil the results for those further west. I didn’t see anyone doing the former, especially since audience members were offering digital congratulations during the awards.

Another piece of controversy arose when the award for Best Comedy Series was given in the off-air pre-show. Taken by Less Than Kind, the award was given out to an almost empty theatre, while the attendees snagged one last cocktail before the live broadcast. A compromise was made when a pre-taped segment of the Less Than Kind winners on stage was spliced into the broadcast (the same with Brian Williams who won for Best Sports Host).

LessThanKind_zps96439c65

LTK showrunner Mark McKinney had positive words down in the press room. “I don’t hold it against the Academy, as they’ve done a lot of things right and done their job for year one. But next year, they won’t get away with the same thing.”

Despite the controversy, attendees of the awards were in high spirits. The red carpet was bustling with celebs and a wild scrum of photographers before the event. The post-show cocktail party was so popular that it continued until staff from the Sony Centre hustled everybody out to the after-party several blocks away.

The audience engaged with Martin Short, and the spirit of camaraderie was evident in the theatre as well as the press room where not only winners appeared, but nominees and attendees also showed up to hobnob with the media vultures and test out the press room food.

Martin Short proved not only to be a nominee and talented comedian but a true entertainer as well, when he busted out a song I’ve dubbed “Marty’s Night” about his chances at winning an award. When he lost in both categories, he kept his good humour, maintaining that his “rock bottom is everyone else’s dream.” Short wasn’t afraid to press a few buttons, poking fun at Cheryl Hickey’s pregnant “ice cream” belly, and critiquing the Housewives’ collective intelligence level. He also brought back some beloved characters from the past.

FatMartinShort_zps20d9b17aJiminy Glick (The Martin Short Show) joined Majumder during the red carpet broadcast, embodying Joan Rivers and bringing life to the pre-show. Some of the major presenters during the awards included Catherine O’Hara (SCTV), Adam Beach (Arctic Air), Kristin Lehman (Motive), Allan Hawco (Republic of Doyle), Allan Thicke (Growing Pains), Sarah Canning (Primeval: New World), Rick Mercer (Rick Mercer Report), Meg Tilley (Bomb Girls), Jody, Ronnie and Mary (The Real Housewives of Vancouver), Gerry Dee (Mr. D), Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint) and many more.

The last award of the night was given out for Best Dramatic TV Series. Unsurprisingly the final award went to the team from Flashpoint, making them the big winners. This was undeniably a big honor after wrapping their fifth and final season by their own choosing. The series finale aired in December last year.

Flashpoint also took home awards for acting, writing, and the team was honoured for their achievements in television at the industry gala on Thursday night.

Flashpoint_zps7432a9d7

The Five Best Things About the Canadian Screen Awards:

  1. Martin Short as a bagpipe.
  2. A professional, multi-camera broadcast with an elegant stage, celebrating Canadian achievements.
  3. The sheer volume of media interested in covering this event.
  4. The mini roast beef amuse-bouches served after the awards.
  5. Seeing a theatre filled with diverse Canadian talent, excited to celebrate each other and themselves.

The Top Five “Opportunities” for Improving the Canadian Screen Awards:

  1. One live broadcast, country wide (no spoilers!).
  2. A better balance between Film and TV at the Main Event.
  3. Better media information, press packages, and subtitles on the press room feed during the awards.
  4. A longer live broadcast, or at least some wiggle room at the end for overages. If the Oscars can close in on 4 hours we can at least manage 2 and a half.
  5. PICK A DAMN NICKNAME! Tell the press and market it or they’re going to end up being called The Pointies or similar.

And just for good measure, here’s my buddy Strombo looking steeped (yep, I’m bringing it back!):

Stombo_zps06ff4fdb

What were your favorite moments? What would you change? 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail