May 2014 Issue

May 2014

Canada’s Call Sheet

By Judith Klassen

Class Clash, Dysfunctional Families, and Psychic Visions:
Scrubs up Good

May 2014Walking onto the Toronto set of Global’s new medical drama, Remedy (created by Greg Spottiswood), feels very much like visiting a real hospital—albeit without the medicinal smells and soul-sucking overhead lighting. The doctors, nurses and their scrubs are pretty easy on the senses as well. As Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries), who plays Dr. Melissa Conner, jokes, “I think they’re a little sexier, they are called Gray’s Anatomy scrubs.” As the over-achieving baby of the Connor tribe, Melissa has myriad, juicy issues. Says Canning, “The joy in playing a perfectionist is having all the dark stuff bubble uncontrolled to the surface.”

In what Remedy’s lead Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint) calls “a family drama that happens to be set in a hospital,” the show compellingly contains an outbreak of nonfatal nepotism. Playing profligate son, Griffin, to Colantoni’s Chief of Staff is Dillon Casey (Nikita). Says Casey, “I like to use metaphors: Griffin is the prodigal son. His dad sticks him in the basement, which is like a maze, so he’s the Minotaur, working in the labyrinth—the guts of Bethune Hospital.”

The class struggle in Remedy is reminiscent of shows like Downton Abby –with perhaps a more distinct family hierarchy. The status is even colour-coded: Griffin wears the basement brown uniform, Mellissa the royal blue surgeon scrubs, and big sister, Sandy, played by Sara Allen (19-2), wears purple scrubs befitting her position as ICU nurse.

Says Allen, “Sandy may have her dark side, but the great thing about TV is you never really know what the day-to-day is going to bring.”

Another crucial character wandering Bethune’s corridors is Nurse Sandy’s fiancé, Dr. Brian Decker, played by Matt Ward (TRON). Ward describes Decker’s mindset, “He chooses efficiency over effectiveness and sees this linear path to success: 11 years of med school, the great job, the house, the significant other. He’s not willing to veer off that path.”

Remedy downstairs standouts include: Diego Fuentes (Hollywoodland) as the charming and mysterious Bruno Dias, Genelle Williams as PSA Zoe Rivera, the hilarious Stephanie Belding (Cracked), and Canadian icon Patrick McKenna (Red Green) as the basement boss. Cast also includes Catherine Disher (The Border), and the fab Martha Burns (Blindness) as the high-powered, hard- drinking lawyer mom to the Conner clan. A character in its own right, Bethune Hospital is also played by Hamilton’s Juravinski Hospital.

Listen Up!

May 2014The Listener showrunner, Peter Mohan (Lost Girl, The Bridge) shares a knack for potent creative visualization with his show’s protagonist, Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik). Like the mystery-solving paramedic with telepathic powers, Mohan sees the big picture when he focuses on the micro moment. Says Mohan, “Our goal is not to court that rarefied cable crowd; it is to appeal to the largest possible audience. People love to invite these characters into their homes every week.” Currently, The Listener is gracing living rooms in 120 countries, by fans who speak over 33 languages. No foreigner to jumping borders, Mohan jokes about catching one of his former hit series, Night Heat, on Botswana TV, “That was cool and a bit surreal.”

May 2014With a recent sale to the ION network in the coveted American market, Mohan is hunkered down with his team doing what needs to be done: shifting the shape of the show to be more episodic—allowing new viewers to jump in at any point. The Listener, produced by Shaftesbury in association with CTV and Fox International, was created by Michael Amo in 2009. It is executive produced by Mohan, along with Shaftesbury’s Christina Jennings and Scott Garvie. Cast includes: Lauren Lee Smith (Good Dog), Ennis Esmer (Sex After Kids), Rainbow Francks (Stargate Atlantis), Peter Stebbings (Murdoch Mysteries) and Mylene Dinh-Robic (19-2).

Seedling gets 2nd Season in the Sun

May 2014Ever wonder what would happen if a rogue sperm donor insinuated himself into the lives of his recipients? That’s the kernel that germinated in the mind of filmmaker Joseph Raso, who later birthed City TV’s single-camera comedy Seed.

Seed’s creator/showrunner Raso didn’t initially plan to reproduce for the small screen, until a network deal put him happily in the dysfunctional TV family way. Says Raso, “For the ‘big idea,’ I was inspired by a friend of mine going through the select-a-donor process, but the main character, Harry (Adam Corson) came out of looking at my guy friends, who were not the most responsible fellows, suddenly staying home. Yep, they were having kids.” Raso credits the small and mighty Vancouver- based production company Force Four for persevering and making sure the project happened.

According to Seed’s Vanessa Matsui (Picture This), who plays the sardonic, free-thinking bar owner Irene, it’s the utopia of sets. Says Matsui, “Joseph champions all of us and I feel very safe and supported working with him and the gang.” Matsui adds, “The coolest thing about Irene is that she was originally written as a guy and it was Mark Ferrell (Corner Gas) who suggested they turn him into a her! She’s not written like a conventional woman. She doesn’t want kids, she likes to have sex, and isn’t ashamed about it.”

Seed also stars Carrie Lynn Neales (Nikita), Amanda Brugel (Sex After Kids), Stephanie Mills (Good God), Laura D. Carteret (Mean Girls), Matt Baram (Repo Men), Abby Ross (Swim), and William Ainscough (Hidden).

Judith Klassen is a Toronto-based writer, comedian, filmmaker, and host of the celeb talk show Judecast.

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