5×5 With The Hook: Noelle Carbone.

Noelle Carbone is responsible for some of the slickest, most ground-breaking and unbelievably-well-written TV moments in recent memory.

Though if you ask her, she’ll deny it vehemently. But what else can you expect from a Canadian, right? Being humble is what we do. The truth is, Noelle, unlike some writers, has never separated her moral code and belief system when writing and producing shows like Rookie Blue and Saving Hope. (Noelle’s newest writing gig is the mega-hit Canadian crime drama, Cardinal. But we’ll return to that later.)

“First this, now I’m on The Hook’s blog?  What else can go wrong?”

But back to Noelle’s path along the Canadian television super highway; this chick doesn’t walk into a writing room and say, “I’m here, I’m queer, let’s go!”, but she doesn’t hide who she is either. That decision took time to arrive at, but that’s how we evolve as professionals and people, right? Noelle’s journey is a road map for all of us, not just those in the LGBTQ community; when you refuse to live in fear of the world’s judgment of your true identity, you enjoy a freedom that allows you to excel at any task you undertake.

That’s why I’ll never hide my status as a mega nerd of the highest order.

But back to NC. (We’re cool, so she doesn’t mind if I call her that. I hope.)

In 2016 NC, along with Saving Hope producer Sonia Hosko, Gina Tass (creator of the Trevor Project Fundraiser) and producer/director/writer Michelle Mama, wrote the “LGBT Fans Deserve Better” pledge, otherwise known as the #TheLexaPledge on “the social media” all that’s all the rage with the kids these days. The pledge contains seven guidelines writers can follow including promising to “refuse to kill off a queer character solely to further the plot of a straight one” and to “never bait or mislead fans on social media or any other outlet.”, and of course, “always read The Hook’s work before embarking on any writing endeavor, while referencing his genius whenever possible.”

What? You don’t know if that’s in there or not. There are sub-sections to documents like this; the legalese is very complicated. Shut up.

I think I’ve damaged NC’s professional reputation and standing in the Canadian TV industry enough, don’t you? Time to hear from the lady herself.

 

ONE)  You know I’m going to start by asking for your most memorable Hope Zion moment, right?  Good, bad or ugly… fire away!

Definitely the second last scene we shot of the series finale. Most of the core cast was in the scene — and those who weren’t were waiting in the wings. It was an incredibly emotional scene and Erica had us all in tears with her performance. Then when the scene was done the ADs started to announce, one by one, all the actors who were wrapped on the series and oh God, we all bawled. And hugged. And bawled some more. It was a really lovely send off. I think it was nice for the actors too because they all go to say goodbye at the same time. 


Then an hour later, during the very last shot of the series, a bottle of champagne accidentally exploded in our showrunner Adam Pettle’s, lap. Erica’s trying to get through this intensely emotional scene with her scene partner and we’re all dying of laughter in the next room, and Adam is covered in champagne. It was actually the perfect ending to Saving Hope which was a show that always tried to balance the gut-wrenching moments with moments of levity. If I hadn’t seen the look of mortification on Adam’s face, I would’ve thought he’d done it on purpose. He’s always has such great comedic timing. 

The Saving Hope set tear-down process: The end of an era.

 

TWO)  You’ve done the rounds on the “television production set jobs” circuit, Noelle; what’s the coolest job on a set?

On Saving Hope the Prosthetics team has the coolest job. Everyone on set, including the actual surgeons who come in to consult, are always blown away by what our prosthetics people can do.

TV’s not all about glitz ‘n glamor, kids… but it’s always cool.

This is officially the coolest pic I’ve ever posted on this blog.  I owe NC big time.

THREE)  Like millions of others, I harbor a dream of translating my writing to the small screen.  I’ve failed miserably so far (yay me!).  You’re an accomplished TV writer, what’s the first step to success for a hack like me?

First off, I’m sure you’re not a hack. If you were, you wouldn’t be writing about Canadian TV the way you do. You’d be ridiculing it on social media.

Secondly, I think the best advice is to surround yourself with other creative people who understand and support your dream, and who share your passion. Michael Grassi was my OG writing buddy. We’d meet once a week and commiserate, then sit in silence for 3 hours and work. This was just after I graduated from film school. My writing dates with Michael helped me stay focused, kept me writing and, most importantly, made a career as a TV writer seem like a perfectly reasonable dream — since it was one we shared.

(Who am I to argue with a guest? NC rocks, doesn’t she?)

FOUR)  You’re currently writing Season 3 of the smash hit drama,  Cardinal, (with an assist from the super cool Patrick Tarr, of course) can you tell us what happens?  (Yeah, I’m kind of a jerk. Don’t worry, CTV won’t mind if you reveal a few spoilers, right?)

No, I can’t tell you what happens because I don’t want to get fired. What I can tell you is that Aubrey Nealon did such a tremendous job with season 1 that I actually felt intimidated coming on board for season 3. The tone and style of this show is so different from anything I’ve worked on.

But it’s been an exciting challenge and I feel really lucky to be working with Patrick again. He’s so smart and he’s been a great boss and leader. Plus his brain works completely differently than mine so it’s always cool seeing what we come up with together. 

Noelle and Patrick Tarr, two of the coolest people I’ve never met.

FIVE)  The Canadian TV landscape has evolved by leaps and bounds in the last two years or so… if you could be any piece of sporting equipment, what would you be?  (Yes, we’re all mad here, thank you for noticing. To be fair, I dare to be different.)

Wow. That was quite the masterful mid-sentence pivot!

I don’t know why but every answer I think of is dripping with sexual innuendo. And nobody wants to hear that — especially from me.  

(I do. But as my wife always tells me, I’m special.)

And there you go, kids! Another exceptional guest from the never-cooler Canadian television universe. I want to thank Noelle Carbone for being here today and for all of you for taking a break from watching Donald Trump make Russia great again.

See you in the lobby and on the telly, friends…

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I’m No Expert… Sunday Morning Edition.

I’m no expert but I would think that a mother for whom the safety of her brood is supposedly-paramount would exercise extreme caution when carrying out said protection.

Case in point: a mommy dearest who, in her zeal to protect her young (nineish-going-on-thirty) whiter-than-Brooke-Shields son from the “evil bellman and his rolling bellcart of death”, yanked said child by the hood of his Sears brand winter coat. Sadly, her “cure” was far worse than the “disease”, and her child went flying backwards – his feet actually left the ground – before landing flat on his back. The little guy’s expression said it all but he elaborated nonetheless:

“What the hell?  What did you do, bitch?”

Yep, the little fella has obviously been watching far too much BET. Still, he was the highlight of the March Break check-out frenzy… and considering the crowd we got this year, that’s saying something. His creator was stunned, but I found the words:

“The worst part is… he was nowhere near me!”

I’m a little dickens, aren’t I?

See you in the lobby, kids…

Kids, man…

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An Open Letter To CBC Haters Everywhere.

Hello there, you angry, angry souls.

It’s 2017, there are literally a million targets more deserving of your ire and scorn in Canada alone, to say nothing of the United States of Donald Trump…

But what do you choose to do? You direct your rage at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, an organization whose sole purpose is to be a voice for all Canadians, even those who would fear and hate it. Social media has become mankind’s greatest communication tool but do you use it to achieve something positive? No you publish posts, tweets, Instagram memes, et cetera in the hopes burning the CBC to the ground.

But to be fair, you also publish dick pics, increasingly-bizarre cat videos, and body shaming crapola. So there’s that.

 

But ask yourself this: What would you do if it all ended tomorrow?

Think about it. What if the Trudeau government pulled every dollar and let Canada’s network fade into history? Who would you hate then?

Of course, right now you’re thinking:

“I don’t hate the CBC… I hate what it stands for!  I hate that it’s a tool for corrupt government officials with secret agendas.  CBC is riddled with left-wing bias in its news coverage!”

“Why is the Government in the broadcasting business in the first place?  They’re competing unfairly with the private sector!”

“CBC receives advertising and cable/satellite fees greater than CTV and Global… PLUS they get more than a billion dollars of our tax money!”

There may be some logical, coherent arguments behind these and many of the cases directed at abolishing the CBC – but I refuse them all. Removing CBC from the playing field would leave Canadians watching networks owned and controlled by the private sector. And those guys aren’t exactly choir boys, to say the least..

Are there corrupt govt. officials and executives in the CBC with hidden agendas? Of course! There are corrupt souls in every organization; I once knew a Director of Purchasing who deliberately bought the cheapest items in order to come in under budget and receive an annual bonus. He saved the company a ton of cash… which they then spent on ambulance rides and lost wages due to accidents caused by cheap, faulty equipment.

As for why the government is in the TV/radio biz in the first place: Who can argue that a nation’s citizens deserve a place for their stories to be told? This goes for all of a country’s citizens, by the way. Take a good look at the average North American network and you’ll see just how far we have to go as a society. We may not keep people in literal chains anymore… but that doesn’t mean everyone is free.

As you may have surmised by now, I’m not exactly what you’d call an “intelligent” man. I have a degree in journalism, a field many consider to be as honorable as pimping these days. I’ll never be able to go toe-to-toe with most of the CBC’s critic in a battle of intellectual wills.

But so what? I pay my taxes. (I hate it but I do it.) I’m a Canadian citizen. (As far as anyone knows.) And so I’m a part owner of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and as such, I’m as entitled to my opinion as you are.

 

If this isn’t a good use of my tax dollars… I don’t know what is.

And so here is my final argument. If each of you looks back at the collective days of your existence you’ll see it: That moment when a CBC program touched your life. You may have been a child watching The Friendly Giant or a teen watching Degrassi Junior High. Or perhaps you watched the 9/11 attacks unfold on your nation’s network. You may even have been inspired to help change the world by David Suzuki, or to launch your own business on Dragons’ Den.

For me it was King of Kensington starring the late and incomparable Al Waxman. Every day I’d eat my dinner in our basement rec room and watch as Al solved his neighbors’ problems (after making them worse with his initial efforts). Without going into too much detail, let’s just say my childhood was filled with more darkness than light and the CBC helped balance the equation. Beatings, alcoholism, sexual assault, and thoughts of suicide before even having one’s first kiss are not exactly the Canadian equivalent of The Wonder Years.

As a grown man with a family of my own I watched my father-in-law slowly succumb to the ravages of disease to the point where his only window to the world was his television. (To be exact, my TV in my living room which became his bedroom for five years.)

The fictional world of Murdoch Mysteries became his shining light; several times a day he’d escape the reality of his mortality by losing himself in the adventures of Detective Murdoch. The darkness of his illness was cast away by the bright light of the collective efforts of Yannick Bisson and Company.

My family owes everyone at the CBC, from head of publicity, Katherine Wolfgang, to every member of the Murdoch crew, a debt of thanks that we can never fully repay.

As a writer I’ll never be good enough for the CBC, but that will never stop me from defending the network with every breath in my flabby, balding, Canadian body.

So the next time you lash out at the CBC, stop and think about where your rage is really coming from.

See you in the lobby and on the CBC kids…

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5×5 With The Hook: Theodora Miranne.

For an actor who inhabits the skin of a character embroiled in international espionage and corporate intrigue, today’s guest is wonderfully open and generous when it comes to baring her soul.

Theodora Miranne is the whole package, as the kids say. She has wit to spare and she’s as talented as a whip. Wait, I think I may have mixed my metaphors. Again.

Ah, who cares, right? The point is, she’s plays Kat Carlson (love that name!) on the brand-spanking new American television hit, The Blacklist: Redemption, and she’s here today to chat about whatever madness my genius intellect could conceive. 

 

This larger-than-life pic courtesy of Theodora’s progenitors and Karina Vidal.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Blacklist: Redemption… shame on you, it’s brilliant! Correct that heinous error this minute! (After you finish this 5×5, that is.) Here’s a quick primer on this spin-off from über-hit, The Blacklist:

Undercover operative Tom Keen sets off on a new path after a mysterious meeting with the father he never knew leads him to join Grey Matters, a covert international security organization run by his biological mother, the beautiful and calculating Scottie Hargrave.

Tom forms a fragile alliance with her group of skilled mercenaries, and together, they put their unique skills to work solving the most dangerous problems the government won’t touch. But for Tom, this chance for redemption is about more than just making the world safer, as he also embarks on a clandestine mission to uncover the truth of his own murky past.

https://i2.wp.com/www.nbcumv.com/sites/default/files/styles/shows_landing_image_height_400_300/public/images/author_created/theblacklistredemption_s1_show.jpg

Cool, right? This show’s barely begun (they’re halfway through an eight-episode ruin but it’s a lock to be renewed) and it’s already layered with subplots that are sure to explode by the nail-biting conclusion.Theodora’s character, Kat, is dabbling with the prospect of playing around with her powerful boss’ hired male companion. (Said boss just lost her hubby in an apparent plane crash, but as she says, “Everyone mourns in their own way.”)

As for Theodora herself, let’s take a brief look at her life pre-TBR, shall we?

Created and raised in London, Theodora Miranne was born as Theodora Woolley but legally changed her name after losing a buttload of cash to some shady characters. What? It could be true, you never know. Fine, I promise to hire a research department soon; it’s not my fault all the interns the community college sends over keep disappearing. Serves me right for sharing office space with a scientist who got kicked out of his university…

Where was I? Oh yeah, the incredibly-talented and unbelievably-stunning Theodora. She’s cut her acting teeth on variety of TV series, ranging from the hilarious/disturbing Broad City to the intriguing/chilling Eye Candy as well as smash hits Blue Bloods and Person of Interest. In other words, this chick may be gorgeous… but she can act like nobody’s business. 

Theodora has also been working on a number of independent film projects including: Lost in Love, Landing Up, The Kidnapping of a Fish, Lords of Magic, and Good Bones. She was also featured in Seth Rogen’s ode to Christmas, The Night Before.​ (I imagine that was a helluva wrap party.)

To top it off, Theodora gives amazing answers too. See for yourself…

ONE)  The folks who inhabit the word of The Blacklist Redemption are all about secrets – which they’re willing to kill to keep buried; do you have a good poker face in “the real world” Theodora?

I have the WORST poker face. Literally I give away all the secrets, all the time! (But never on purpose I promise.)

(At least she’s honest, right?)

 

Go ahead, Hook, mess up my 5×5.  I dare you.  (Pic courtesy of CBS and Person of Interest.)

 

TWO)  It goes without saying that Kat is playing with fire by dabbling with Scottie’s boy toy, but could she be playing a much more involved game? After all, Scottie’s “hired gun” (so to speak) knows things about Scottie she most likely hasn’t confided to anyone else. Could Kat be actually working for Howard?

It would be playing with fire for me to say anything! That’s what’s fun with this show, it could go in any direction.

THREE)  If you could live in any literary universe where would you go?  (I figure actors get tired of the same questions so I try to mix it up. You’re welcome.)

I’d jump right into ‘Alice in Wonderland’ but I don’t think I’d last very long.

(I have faith in her, don’t you?)

FOUR)  Kat’s been on the sidelines so far but would you like to shoot some action sequences for Redemption?

I’m always up for some action scenes! Would love Kat to learn some of Nez’s moves, might be hard in a suit…

 

FIVE)  You’ve already worked with some of the most talented folks on television and on film but if you could join the cast of any production, past or present, what would you choose?

Is it too cliché to say Downton Abbey????

(Nothing is off-limits on this site, Theodora.)

 

Well, it looks like Theodora is waiting for a train, so I better wrap this up. I need to express my eternal gratitude to today’s guest for being a Brit who stars on a hit American television series and is wiling to slum on a Canadian blog. Who says we can’t all get along, Donald Trump? You can see Theodora – and Kat – on The Blacklist: Redemption tonight on NBC.

See you in the lobby and across the TV landscape, kids…

Soulful pic credit: Gabriel Mokake

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Did Hell To Pay Actually Pay Off?

A lot of promises were made in regards to Hell To Pay, the Murdoch Mysteries Season Ten finale; the question is: Did Peter Mitchell and Company deliver?

Well, let’s see, shall we?

This pic’s too good to not use again…

ONE)  William’s not-so-cat-like-reflexes and Brackenreid’s not-so-sharp shootin’…  I suppose I understand why the Inspector would miss, but why the heck did William Murdoch just stand there in the middle of the street after someone took a shot at him? Still, as far as openings go, it was both intriguing and thrilling, exactly what you want from a finale, right?

 

TWO)  Some timeline bumps.  First Murdoch mentions that Julia is away at a conference then he sees Julia at the morgue and she mentions her trip – that she hasn’t taken yet. Then there’s the reenactment of the crime that set things in motion; we were given two different versions, though to be fair, this was a storytelling device not a mistake. So overall, well done, scribe Peter Mitchell.

Speaking of PM, read this interview with TV ‘eh? if you want to see what’s in store for MM Season Eleven. You won’t be disappointed.

 

THREE)  The ninja-like, turn-of-the-century bad guys.  How did the minions keep breaking into William and Julia’s apartment without making a sound? First they sneak up on the good detective and knock him out long enough to slip him into bed with a burlesque corpse and then they grab Julia? If you’re a gifted inventor like Det. Murdoch, with enemies that once included James Gillies, wouldn’t you intruder-proof your apartment?

What do you mean I’m about to die?  I have a mortgage!  It’s bad enough the CBC is paying me in Canadian Tire money!

 

FOUR)  A riddle to stump the Artful Detective himself?  How do you unravel a criminal knot tied by a high-ranking politician and a industrialist with super deep pockets? Especially without your usual resources and back-up? William couldn’t exactly walk into the bullpen and say, “What have you, George?” could he?

No, he had to do that in a church – and then both he and George returned to that same church even after they knew the corrupt cops were aware of the locale. Another plot hole that was necessary to the overall storyline.

Speaking of the crime itself… it tied into the Great Fire and it played upon the most simple criminal urge: the lust for money and power.

Brilliant.

 

FIVE)  A place for everyone in Hell.  Hell To Pay gave every member of the MM cast – except for Miss James and Mrs. B, of course – a role to play. Louise Cherry (whom we haven’t seen the last of) and Nina Bloom played integral roles. The guest stars were top-notch. Even Jackson and Higgins contributed… though mostly as canon fodder in the last act. 

 

SIX)  The true test of friendship.  Crabtree showed his true colors (and got his best girl, Nina Bloom, back in the process). Inspector Brackenreid pushed back against the corrupt forces around him and would up a free agent. Again.

In the end, we were reminded of MM’s greatest strength, the bond between the characters and their collective devotion to see justice done, regardless of the personal cost.

And speaking of that very personal cost…

 

SEVEN)  The bloodiest last act since that season finale of Dallas where they wiped pretty much everyone out.  But unlike that finale, I doubt this whole thing will turn out to be a dream of Julia’s.

But back to that mass possible culling of the MM cast: Was that crazy or was it cray -cray? I’m certain the Inspector survived his battle with that snake Chief Constable Davis. Or did he?

I’m certain Slugger Jackson bit the Church bullet (literally) since his “alter ego” is pretty busy on Orphan Black. But I could be wrong.

Higgins and Crabtree are most certainly wounded but you can’t lose a clown like Higgins and even though Jonny Harris is Still Standing for CBC (see what I did there?) I’m certain he’ll be around for more MM. Though what do I know?

They wouldn’t possibly kill Julia? Would they?

And William isn’t doomed. Is he?

Not if a certain someone has anything to say about it…

 

EIGHT)  Detective Watts is back!  Daniel Maslany was listed in the opening credits so I knew he was bound to show up eventually – but they really cut it close…

His appearance was the sole glimmer of hope in an otherwise grim episode. But what a glimmer it was, right? It’s been suggested that Det. Watts has an ulterior motive but there’s been nothing to suggest that so far. Either way, Daniel Maslany is a joy to watch so we win either way.

Come with me if you want to live, Detective Murdoch…

 

Well, that’s all I have for you today, kids. I’m still reeling from the aftershocks of this show-changing ep, as are you no doubt. As for the question I posed at the beginning of this post, that’s something only you can answer for yourself. Personally, I think Hell To Pay scribe Peter Mitchell can be proud of the fact he wrote the greatest cliffhanger in CBC history.

See you in the lobby and on the CBC, kids…

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There’s Going To Be Hell To Pay On The CBC Tonight, Kids…

On the eve of the broadcast of Hell to Pay, the Murdoch Mysteries season ten finale, it has occurred to me that this show has more in common with the British sci-fi smash, Doctor Who than the steampunk theme.

I know what you’re thinking, but the strain of being a blogging bellman hasn’t finally burned me out, just pay attention please. The Doctor is a Time Lord whose body can regenerate itself when critically injured or simply burned out. (It’s sci-fi, not Masterpiece Theatre, shut up.) Looking back att MMX, Murdoch Mysteries has done the same thing; the entire show has been reborn, adding new elements and faces to provide viewers with new perspectives and dimensions.

Cool, right?

Screw this up and I’ll kill ya, Hook…

Before we go any further, you should check out a pre-finale report from the good folks at TV, eh?; after all, they’re Canadian television super stars.

And now, as we stand on the threshold of a thrilling, daring, excruciating nail-biting season finale, let’s hear from some folks who dwell at the center of the MM universe. I asked them to describe the finale and/or the season as a whole in five words. (They’re all super busy folks so I like to keep things simple. Like me.) We’ll begin with the man himself, Detective William Murdoch of the Toronto Constabulary, otherwise known as a young Canadian thespian named Yannick Bisson:

“The Murdoch cast is doomed.”

Scary stuff, kids, right? Just like Doctor Who, you’ll have to watch from behind the couch unless you have nerves of steel.

The lady who makes them all look so good or gruesome, depending on the circumstances, make-up maiden extraordinaire, Debi Drennan:

“I can’t believe that happened!”

And finally, (it can be tough to reach MM cast members on short notice but I did the best I could) here are five words about Hell to Pay from Murdoch music man Robert Carli:

  1.   Dark.
  2.   Desperate.
  3.   Gripping.
  4.   Shocking.
  5.   Tragic.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not so sure I want to watch Hell to Pay now! But I will. We all will.

See you in the lobby and on the CBC, kids…

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It’s Over!!!

Yes, the day has finally arrived…

It seemed as though it was going to last forever…

(And no, that wasn’t what she said – ever.)

But…

MARCH BREAK IS OVER!!!

 

They’re gone! Blessed be to all-mighty God herself… they’re actually gone! The beyond-dysfunctional families. The crazy MILFs. The rabid cougars. Hockey clans. Redneck clans. Actual Klan members. (Seriously.) The 65-year-old dude with the bag of sex toys he left behind and came back for. (God bless his rapidly-failing heart.)

They’re all leaving Niagara Falls.

The trailer parks are full once more.

Yes, Passover is just around the corner – which means Hell will be empty for a week – but today, my friends, the crisis has passed.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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