Posts Tagged ‘Comedy’
Bette MacDonald has been leading a distinguished and successful career within the Canadian entertainment industry on TV, radio and on stage performances for over 20 years.
Bette’s active involvement within the industry is evident from notable tasks that she has undertaken such as appearing at the Canadian Winnipeg Comedy festival as well as working alongside Symphony Nova Scotia.
The latter of the two performances was such a success that she was brought back for an unexpected yet highly appreciated two-night encore presentation.
For the past five years, Bette and her husband, Maynard Morrision have been working on a holiday special known as “Tis The Season ” with it having been critically acclaimed and it has been selling out major halls since its inauguration. The production was in-fact such a success that it has consistently received standing ovations.
More over, for the past three years, Bette has portrayed the role of the no non-sense and organized secretary; Trudy Walsh on CBC’s hit sitcom, Mr.D. With the show’s third season scheduled to debut tonight at 9;00pm on CBC and Bette being kind enough to participate in a live Q&A, it seems like a great way and time for fans to interact with the delightful actress. To participate in the live chat simply enter your question[s] and/or comment[s] in the comments section of this post.
The comments section will open up shortly before the event @ approximately 12:45 eastern standard time. In order to see Bette’s responses to the questions and to see what other readers are asking, be sure to refresh the page several times throughout the session.
Questions regarding the event can be sent by e-mail at email@example.com. Live technical support during the event will be available through the blog’s Facebook page @https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abbas-Karimjees-Weblog/15135179156670.
Aliza Vellani is no stranger within the Canadian entertainment industry.Particularly, the actress is well known for her role as the teenaged character of Layla Siddiqui on CBC’S hit sitcom,Little Mosque on the Prairie.
With Little Mosque having been off the air for nearly 2 years and Aliza continuing to explore pursuits within the Canadian entertainment industry , I thought it’s a great time to connect with the delightful actress.
Particularly we discuss Little Mosque’s impact, her reflections on portraying the character of Layla as well as the series finale and much more! We also discuss the actress’ role on CTV’S Motive in the show’s upcoming second season which is scheduled to debut in summer 2014.
Read through the complete interview with Aliza Vellani below and share your thoughts on it in the comments section.
Abbas Karimjee:How do you think both Little Mosque and specifically the character of Layla will be remembered as?
Aliza Vellani:I think Layla will be remembered as a loveable Muslim teenager. A young girl, who simply goes through the everyday struggles of discovering her own identity. Layla had the added challenge of finding a balance between her family values and the values of the community at large. I think this is something all teenagers can relate to and it makes Layla a charming character to remember.
AK: Little Mosque on the Prairie aimed to dispel stereotypes about Muslims and help bring light to the way in which we are all similar regardless of our cultural or religious differences. To what extent do you think the show was successful in achieving this goal and essentially how do you think it changed how the mainstream society perceives Muslims?
AV:Little Mosque on the Prairie was remarkable as it served to educate its audiences on Islamic culture and practices in a humourous and family friendly setting. In doing so it tried to dispel those stereotypes by using them as a source of laughter. In a wonderful ‘laugh at yourself’ style.
AK:Little Mosque was the first of its kind, in terms of a show which used comedy to showcase Muslims in a positive light. How do you think the fact that CBC dared to feature the show, reflects Canadian culture?
AV:I think it reflects Canadian culture in a very positive light. CBC tackled sensitive and potentially controversial issues in a great way. It demonstrated multiculturalism and acceptance as a work in progress not just in Canada but around the world.
AK:When we last saw Layla in the series finale, she informed her father, Baber [Manoj Sood] that she had decided to pursue acting instead of going to medical school. Although the show is no longer on the air, what was your reaction to Layla’s decision and how do you envision her future?
AV:In many ways, I saw a big part of myself in Layla. It made the ending so special to me because it reflected my own pursuit in life. I like to imagine that Layla still manages to drive her Dad crazy with her choices in life and yet give him memories to cherish. I believe the healthy tug of war between Baber and Layla continues in every loving household as young girls explore their options in life with Daddy on guard.
AK:How has working on Little Mosque impacted both your career and your personal life?
AV:Being on Little Mosque on the Prairie was the most amazing experience. The best training one can get is through experience. I was so lucky that Little Mosque presented itself to me at such a young age. I was also very lucky to be able to work with several seasoned performers. They remain my mentors and I consider them part of my family. I really grew up on that show and it felt like a wonderful chapter in my life ended with the series. Little Mosque on the Prairie gave me more than I ever could have hoped and I will always be grateful for that.
Let us discuss your role on CTV’S Motive.
AK: What character do you portray and how many episodes do you appear in?
AV:I play a doctor named Dr. Gita Ambreen in the eighth episode of Motive’s second season.
AK:Lets discuss how you were appointed to the role of Dr.Ambreen. Were you contacted or did you audition? Could you please walk us through this initial process?
AV:My agent, Emilio Salituro from Muse Artist Management, had contacted me with the audition a couple of days before the taping. Luckily, I was able to audition between classes at SFU.
AK: What can you tell us about Dr.Gita Ambreen? Could you please describe her personality and perhaps how it differs from Layla’s?
AV:Layla was a teenager in the series while Dr. Gita Ambreen is both an adult and a doctor. Dr. Ambreen is a naturally professional character. She follows protocol. On the other hand Layla, was a charming but rebellious teenager.
AK:Portraying a role in a crime series can have a more serious and darker tone than a comedy series such as Little Mosque on the Prairie. What challenges were involved in adjusting to working on a darker, more serious show? Which type of genre do you prefer working in?
AV:A comedy is very light hearted while a crime series is quite serious reflecting high stakes. I loved working in comedy, but being part of a crime genre was new and extremely exciting. It is definitely a genre that I would love to do more of.
AK:Did you have to do research to portray the role of a doctor? If so, could you please walk us through this process?
AV:Much of the dialogue in the scenes was fairly straightforward so there wasn’t much I had to research. Of course an important part in preparing for a scene is making sure you know exactly what you are talking about. I had to make sure I truly understood what I was saying, and knew how Dr. Gita Ambreen contributed to the events that occurred.
AK:Motive is a series where investigators try to look at who committed a murder by looking at what the motive of the crime is and based on that, who may have committed the crime. Without giving too much away, how does your character support the storyline of the episode in which you appear?
AV:Dr. Ambreen plays a small role in furthering the investigation when Detectives Vega and Flynn follow a lead in the case.
AK:Though you only worked on Motive for one episode, are there any favourite memories either onscreen or off screen which you would like to share with viewers?
AV:Working on Motive was a wonderful experience. It was great getting to know the other cast and crew on the show between takes on set. My favourite moments on set seem to occur when the unexpected happens. As I was playing a doctor, I was given a pager to attach to my belt during the scene. As we began to run the scene, my pager goes off in the middle of the scene. It was an unexpected surprise.
Lets discuss your career in general.
AK:You recently completed studying Theatre at the Simon Fraser University. Congratulations! How does it feel and what aspirations do you have for your acting career at this point?
AV:Thanks Abbas! It is such a relief to have completed my university degree but also very scary as I enter yet another new and unknown chapter in my life. As an actor, you are constantly in training to strengthen your skills but this will be the first time I will be pursuing acting without being a fulltime student. I think at this point in my career, anything is possible. I am very excited to put all of my efforts into being an actor and working hard to achieve that goal.
AK: You have led a distinguished career, having developed a fair bit of prominence within the Canadian entertainment industry. What advice do you have for youth who are interested in pursuing a career in acting or in the arts, in general?
AV:Thank you again. That is so kind of you to say Abbas. Hopefully this is just the beginning. It takes so much to pursue your passion and it is something I think everyone should do no matter what the obstacles. In pursuing acting as a career, I think my advice for youth would be to always try and have fun. The reason you pursue your passion is because you want enjoy what you do every day. If you lose that, what’s the point? Never forget to enjoy yourself, even when auditioning. In my mind, auditioning is just as much a part of the job description.
AK:Do you have a message for fans who have been following your career?
AV:I would like to say thank you for all the support I have been given so far, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the work I do in the future. It has been an amazing journey so far and I cannot wait for what lies ahead.
Every week until the season 3 premiere of Mr. D on February 24 @ 9:00pm, CBC will be releasing a webisode of “Jimmy Get Out” .The short online episodes cover the variety of escapades which the character of Jimmy undertakes after he routinely gets kicked out of class by his teacher, Gerry Dee.
See this week’s episode below to see how Gerry assists Trudy in the office during his time out from class and share your response to this week’s clip in the comments section!
Indeed, the season 3 premiere date for the third season of Mr. D is quickly approaching! Be sure to tune in on February,24 @ 9:00pm eastern standard time on CBC.
As such, CBC has released a promotional snapshot of Gerry Dee in an upcoming episode.The photo below shows Gerry Dee in his new role as a substitute teacher for Gym!
What is your response to the photo? Do you think Gerry”s teaching style and professionalism will differ from his approach to educating students in the subject of Social Studies which is unqualified to teach?If so, how?Share your response in the comments section.
Indeed, the season premiere of Mr. D is quickly approaching its debut date of February 24 @ 9:00pm eastern standard time.As such, CBC has released a new sneak peak of a scene from the impending third season which shows Gerry Dee encountering a mishap just before he is about to take up a lesson.
Take a look at the clip directly below and share your response to it in the comments section.
Bette MacDonald has been leading a distinguished and successful career within the Canadian entertainment industry on TV, radio and on stage performances for over 20 years.
Bette’s active involvement within the industry is evident from notable tasks which she has undertaken such as appearing at the Canadian Winnipeg Comedy festival as well as working alongside Symphony Nova Scotia. The latter of the two performances was such a success that she was brought back for an unexpected yet highly appreciated two night encore presentation.
For the past five years, Bette and her husband, Maynard Morrision have been working on a holiday special known as “Tis The Season ” with it having been critically acclaimed and it has been selling out major halls since its inauguration.The production was in-fact such a success that it has consistently received standing ovations.
More recently, the actress has been starring as the tough yet kind-hearted secretary, Trudy Walsh in CBC’S hit sitcom Mr.D. With the show having been renewed for a third season and the actress being kind enough to participate in an interview with me we extensively discuss her involvement with the show. Particularly, we discuss aspects of how she has related to her character, how thew character of Trudy interacts with other characters on the show as well as what is in store for the third season of Mr. D. The delightful actress also reflects on the success of Mr. D as well as the other projects which she has been working on.
Read through the complete interview below.
Abbas Karimjee:Lets start by discussing your appointment to the role of Trudy. Were you contacted or did you audition? Could you please walk us through this initial process?
Bette MacDonald:Sure Abbas. I was contacted by producer, Mike Volpe who told me about the show idea and the character. He said that both he and Gerry thought that I would be right for the part, so they asked me to read for it. I’m so glad it worked out.
AK:How have you related to the character of Trudy?
BM:Well, I love playing this character. Love it. Trudy doesn’t suffer fools, she speaks her mind and she has a great sense of style (thank you Martha Curry for the best wardrobe ever!) I believe that when she’s not working, Trudy is living a fabulous life that her colleagues may never learn about. Maybe she’ll be George Clooney’s new girlfriend!
AK:What challenges have you had to overcome to portray the character of Trudy?
BM:I don’t find the character challenging. I understand her and I probably shouldn’t say this but I think Trudy and I are similar in some ways. Oh Dear.
AK:Trudy takes great pleasure in competing with and tormenting Robert as evidenced in various ways such as when they were competing for a gift to buy Callaghan. How do you think Trudy feels about Robert and how would you describe the two’s working relationship?
BM: It’s very likely that Trudy has been at the school a lot longer than Robert. He probably came to the school with a big attitude and big plans which, needless to say, would not sit well with Trudy. In her heart of hearts, I believe she cares for Robert. There are moments when she feels sorry for him. Poor Robert. Such a knob. The fact that Robert is played by the freakishly talented and darling Jonathan Torrens makes those scenes a joy to perform. I just love working with him.
AK:Trudy does not tolerate Gerry’s incompetence as seen from how she reminds of him of his responsibility to perform basic tasks, such as completing attendance and handing in forms. How would you describe the two’s working relationship and how do you think Trudy’s no nonsense attitude with Gerry speaks to her personality?
BM:Trudy will not tolerate any kind of disruption of her perfect system. She is the type of gal who, by night is probably the life of the party but by day runs a well oiled machine of her making. She probably has a system that has been working perfectly for years and here comes Gerry who will have to learn the hard way, that forms must be filled in and returned immediately! Poor Gerry has to learn everything the hard way, doesn’t he.
AK:Trudy often gets irritated when she feels as though she is being undervalued as the mere secretary at Xavier academy such as when Lisa put on a show on secretary appreciation day which suggested that her main role was as the coffee lady for the principal. How do you feel Trudy generally feels she is viewed by her colleagues , in terms of how she contributes to the overall operation of Xavier academy. How do you feel that the way she views the treatment she receives from others impacts her relationships with the staff members, in general?
BM:It was so hard to play angry while those sweet, lovely kids were doing their little play. I had a hard time not cracking up. Poor Lisa, her intentions are so good. It’s in the execution that she has some trouble. Trudy runs a tight ship. She’s aware of everything that goes on at the school. I’ve heard that every school has someone, usually a secretary, who has the keys to all the locks, who knows where the bodies are buried, who must not be crossed….. at Xavier, that person is Trudy. I believe her colleagues learn that Trudy is not to be messed with.
AK:This past season we have seen Trudy and Lisa develop a friendship of sorts as seen by how they spent time after work. Why do you think they have connected together and grow would you like to see this develop?
BM:Trudy feels sorry for Lisa. She’s a sweet girl who tries too hard. Trudy first started going out for the odd drink with Lisa because she likes drinks so much but eventually she began to like her. Trudy is kind, I think but one should never mistake kindness for weakness. Especially not in the case of Trudy Walsh.
AK:What are you able to tell us about what might be in store for the coming season of Mr D, both for the show in general as well as specifically for the character of Trudy?
BM:This season, we laughed more, had a harder time getting through scenes without cracking up. This season is the funniest of the three. The characters have developed even further, their relationships are more intricate and the writing, which has always been wonderful, continues to get stronger. I laugh out loud when I read these scripts. The character Gerry is revealing some very interesting layers while continuing to be hilarious. The real Gerry is hilarious and knows exactly what he wants this show to be. He has maintained from the beginning that he wants the show to be real and as funny as it can be. He has been very successful. Right on Gerry!
AK:What are some of your favourite memories from working on the show thus far , either onscreen or offscreen?
BM:There are many. I love working with these people. It begins with Gerry who is an extraordinarily funny and kind man. The cast is a group of talented actors and comedians who love to work. They will do whatever it takes to serve the scene. The best memories so far involve doing scenes that are so funny that you spend your entire work day laughing. In this season I was in a scene that is the funniest thing I’ve ever been a part of. I can’t say what it is but when you see it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s the actor I share the scene with who makes it so funny. The kids in this cast are very talented and mature, far more mature than many of the “adult” actors. We have so much fun with them. And without them, we sometimes meet in a local pub after a day of shooting. Love those nights and hope to have many more.
AK:Mr D has achieved record-breaking ratings on CBC since the debut of CBC’S hit sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie with the series premiere earning a 1.3 million rating. Why do you think the show resonates with such a large audiences?
BM:Everyone can relate to this show. We’ve all had the school experience. There is a big teacher following, of course. It’s a liberating thing to be able to laugh at some of the absurdity that the educational atmosphere can create and to know that you are not the only one who sees it and understands it. More importantly, perhaps, is that the show is so funny and smart. This show doesn’t talk down to the audience. Everything is not spelled out, we know our audience is bright and is along for the ride. There is an old theatre expression, “If it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage,” so we cannot overstate the importance of the writing team. They are some of the best in the business.
AK:What message do you have for fans of the show, with MR.D approaching its third season?
BM:Well, first of all, I want to thank them for tuning in week after week. I can say, without reservation, that season 3 is the funniest yet. We are extremely fortunate to be able to work in this business and we don’t take that for granted. We know how valuable the audience is and we can’t wait for them to see what’s coming!
AK:Are you working on other acting projects which you would like to share with readers?
BM:Yes! I am currently writing our holiday show that we tour in December. It began as a one nighter and we are now going into our seventh tour. I’m also writing and preparing for a show that I’ll be doing in March with Symphony Nova Scotia. This will be my third show with them. I love working with them. They are superb musicians and lovely people. We take a very interactive approach. It’s challenging and horrifying in many ways but I love it!
Thank you for asking me these questions. I love talking about Mr. D.!
Take a look at a clip from the coming season of Mr. D directly below.
The clip features the character of Gerry Dee attempting to discourage the #1 pick in the 2013 NHL draft Nathan MacKinnon, from pursuing a career in hockey since Gerry himself was unable to succeed in that pursuit. Share your response to the clip in the comments section.
The third season of Mr. D will debut at some point in March 2013, with an exact date to be finalized by CBC later this month. Stay tuned a report from the blog!
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Sniekus has also created,written and acted in the web series, The CastingRoom.biz.The actress has also appeared in the Martin Short Special, I MartinShort and won the CCA 2010 award for best female improviser.The extraordinary actress also serves as the founding member of the Canadian award winning troupe,The National Theatre of the World.com.
More recently,Naomi has been involved with CBC’S hit sitcom,Mr. D where for the past two seasons,she has been portraying the tough and authoritative yet highly respected gym teacher,Bobbi.
With Mr D approaching its third season and Naomi willing to participate in a interview with me, we discuss the ways in which she has related to the character, Bobbi’s previous storylines in the recent second season with her on and off again boyfriend ,Craig and her working relationship with the character of Gerry as well as her reflections on the success of Mr. D.
Furthermore, we discuss the extent to which Mr. D reflects truths about aspects of the Canadian educational system, other projects the actress is involved in as well as much more.
Read through the complete interview below!
Abbas Karimjee: Lets start by discussing your appointment to the role of Bobbi. Were you contacted or did you audition? Could you please walk us through this initial process?
Naoimi Snieckus:I was at the original table read for the FIRST pilot at CBC. After that I still had to audition for the pilot, which I did. I remember I had to bring my dogs to the audition – probably helped me keep my cool – I did the audition and then forgot about the part. I was visiting my mother a little while later and got “the call” that I was flying to Halifax the next day to shoot the pilot – not as exotic as flying to Los Angeles – but I was still VERY excited!
AK:How have you related to the character of Bobbi?
NS:I like Bobbi’s “no-nonsense” approach to things and I’m VERY good at sports. Oh..and I too always wear a whistle but it’s just an accessory really.
AK:What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome in portraying the character of Bobbi?
NS:I’m used to wearing very high heels and pencil skirts every day in normal life – plus I like to spend 2-3 hours doing my hair and make up. Playing Bobbi- I wear track suits and put my hair in a pony tail….it’s VERY challenging to find a way of spending those extra hours.
AK:You have worked on both animated productions such as Franklin and Cat in the Hat as well as set productions such as Mr. D. Which type of acting do you prefer and why?
NS:I love that in my career I get to do a little bit of everything – I also have an improv company called The National Theatre of the World (www.thenationaltheatreoftheworld.com) so being able to perform live helps me keep my comedy muscles strong.
AK:Bobbi and Gerry have had their differences clearly displayed through various episodes , including how she refused to hire him for a gym teaching position when there was an opening and more recently in the finale, passing him down for a chance to lead a senior boys basketball team at Xavier Academy. We have also seen numerous instances when Bobbi has taken great pleasure in deceiving and teasing Gerry.-How do you think Bobbie feels about Gerry and why do you think this is the case? Generally, how would you describe the two’s working relationship?
NS:They are like Scully and Mulder, Sony and Cher, 2 of the 3 Stooges – they HAVE to work together but it’s challenging. At least they speak a common language – sports – they’ll always have that…they’ll always have the courts.
AK:This past season we see Bobbi’s hostile and somewhat oppressive interactions with her on and off again boyfriend, Craig. What do you think the character’s behavior with Craig speaks to her personality and how would you like to see the two’s relationship develop in the coming season?
NS:I think the writers wrote some great stuff for Bobbi and Craig – I mean, he’s an ACTUAL Calvin Klein Model – it’s a fantastic bit of comedy that those two would ever be together. As far as Season 3 and where things go…I can’t speak about that, I’ve been sworn to secrecy! There’s definitely some surprises in store for Bobbi!
AK:With Mr. D approaching its third season, what are you able to tell us about what might be in store , both for the show in general as well as for character of Bobbi in particular?
NS:HA…nice try, I still can’t tell you about Season 3…you’re going to have to tune in…but let’s just say Bobbi and Gerry wrestle some big ideas together!
AK: What are your favorite onscreen or off-screen memories, thus far, from working on Mr D?
NS:We have so much fun on and off screen. The cast and directors we’ve had keep our set really fun so that even when the camera ISN’T rolling we’re still having laughs.
AK: Mr D has achieved record-breaking ratings on CBC since the debut of CBC’S hit sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie with the series premiere earning a 1.3 million rating. Why do you think the show resonates with such a large audiences?
NS:I think everyone can relate to this show cause we’ve all been taught by teachers like Gerry, or Lisa, or Simon, or Bobbi – and there’s a lot of teachers that see themselves in the show.
AK:How do you think the show’s depiction of how staff members relate to one another as well as to the student and parent body is representative of real life interactions within the Canadian educational system?
NS:Because the writing is based largely on Gerry’s real life job as a teacher – everything has a level of truth to it. I love that about this show.
AK:You have appeared in a variety of Canadian series including Little Mosque on the Prairie,Ron James Show, Being Erica and Wingin’ It, Why do you think viewers should take an interest in Canadian programming and particularly, what value, in general, does Canada’s diverse programming offer?
NS:I think there is great TV being made in Canada –both in comedy and drama.If we want to continue to grow as an industry it has to be supported by our country.There’s so many ways of having your voice, your opinion heard about these shows on social network- so I think we should talk about it as much as possible. Folks like you are helping for sure!
AK:What message do you have for fans of the show, with Mr. D approaching season 3?
NS:If you like to laugh, you should watch…if you don’t like to laugh…what is WRONG with you?
AK:What activities do you participate in during your spare time?
NS:Running The National Theatre of the World (with my partner Matt Baram) keeps me really busy. We have regular shows in Toronto (I Seen You on TV the last Wed of every month at The Drake) and tour internationally. We are also part of the upcoming YYComedy Festival in Calgary (www.yycomedy.ca).We’ve been a company for 5 years now and we’re working on pitching our own TV shows presently. We have a residency at Soulpepper Theatre so we are doing improv shows there (like The Script Tease Project) and hosting an upcoming international improv festival in December. www.thenationaltheatreoftheworld.com @the_NTOW.
Indeed, details on the impending third season of CBC’S hit sitcom, Mr D have emerged through a report from Metro Halifiax.
Producer and star , Gerry Dee commented on the growth in the overall quality and type of storytelling that would be seen in the coming season. “We’re getting better at what we do, finding out where our mistakes might have been, and keep adjusting and tightening up the show”.
Further changes in the forthcoming season include its length which has been reduced from 13 episodes to a mere 8 episode season in order to accommodate the airing of the Winter 2014 Olympics.
Additionally, viewers can expect a more central and intensive focus on the main cast and Gerry starting to have opportunities to teach as a physical education teacher- quite a difference from the previous season which featured many guest stars such as Russell Peters and Arlene Duncan.
Mr D is based largely on Gerry’s own recollection of his teaching experiences of a decade, which includes 7 years as a physical education teacher and 3 years as a classroom teacher.To that effect, Gerry Dee has discussed how the depth of his own experiences will impact what viewers will see throughout the entire course of the season.
“I’m running out of the classroom stories so I think you’ll see (the show) start to be a combination of P.E. and classroom material.”
Consequently, the third season will open with Gerry Dee substituting a gym class.
While a debut date for the show’s third season has yet to be set,it will be posted to the blog as soon as the details have been obtained.
What are your thoughts on seeing Gerry substitute as a Gym teacher at various points throughout season? What types of storylines would you like to see develop for both the classroom situations as well as for the gym classes? Share your responses in the comments section.