Superheroes, mob doctors and country music divas: stars at the CTV Upfront reveal what’s in store for new fall shows
Toronto-born actor Stephen Amell may not have been able to wear green during the CTV Upfront but the star of “Arrow” still wanted to represent his superhero’s signature colour.
“We were shooting promos for CTV and they told me specifically I couldn’t wear green because we would be standing in front of a green screen so I snuck a green belt and green socks,” Amell tells reporters during a press conference Thursday morning.
In the new DC Comics-inspired action-adventure series, Amell plays Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy who was shipwrecked on an island for five years, before returning home to his friends and family a changed man. With a newfound physical strength, he creates a secret alter ego named Arrow to make amends for his previous actions.
Although there have been other adaptations of this character, Amell says his interpretation will take a different angle.
“Every new comic book show is a chance to establish a new DC universe and ours is very different than (the others) … we wanted to do a comic book show that’s grounded in reality, sort of like the Chris Nolan universe in ‘Batman.’ If I get hit with a bullet, I can die. I don’t have super powers.”
Amell adds it’s really nice to be able to shoot the show in his home country, and in particular the city of Vancouver.
“It’s really nice to be back. I was born and raised in Toronto so coming back here is really gratifying. I had five years in the business in Canada and the odd thing was up until shooting ‘Arrow,’ I had never even stepped foot in Vancouver,” he says.
The Mob Doctor
Jordana Spiro and James Carpinello also stopped by CTV’s 299 Queen Street headquarters Thursday to chat about their new show, “The Mob Doctor.”
In the dramatic series, Spiro plays Grace Devlin, a promising medical surgeon by day who moonlights for the mob by night, in order to pay off her brother’s gambling debt.
Spiro says one of the things that drew her to the show was the chance to play a strong female lead in a mob drama, a role often played by men.
“It’s not that often that a great role like this for women comes along so I certainly jumped at the chance of that.”
Spiro says her character, who may have to compromise her medical ethics to fulfill her obligations to the mob, will exist in a “moral grey area.”
“(It’s) what drives the show. I think what does make me root for her is she is extraordinarily empathic so her moral ambiguity seems to come a lot from, ‘How can I bend the rules to make something good for a patient?’ … but what is interesting to me about the ambiguity of it is there is something to (my character) that feels like she’s pulled a little bit into the darkness of that world.”
Where the moral centre of Grace Devlin in “The Mob Doctor” is in question, one character who definitely falls on the side of villain is Juliette Barnes in “Nashville,” and that’s exactly how Hayden Panettiere likes it.
In “Nashville,” Panettiere plays a young up and coming star in the country music scene who can’t wait to snatch away the spotlight from veteran Rayna James (Connie Britton).
“I kept having to apologize to Connie in between takes. I was like, ‘You don’t really hate me right?’ … There’s some parts of it where I would never in a million years treat somebody like that,” says Panettiere.
Panettiere, who is also a singer in real life and admits she’s a huge fan of country music, says “Nashville” deals with much more than the inner-workings of the country music scene.
“You don’t have to be just into country music, you don’t have to be just into politics, you don’t have to just be into drama, it’s all combined in this show and hopefully that will bring in assortment of different people.”
Just days before the premiere, the cast of “Saving Hope” left their scrubs and operation caps on set and also took their seats at the Upfront press conference after reporters watched a few highly emotional scenes from the new CTV hospital drama.
The show centers around a love story between Dr. Alex Reid (Erica Durance ) and her fiancé, Charlie (played by Michael Shanks), who is in a coma right from the pilot episode.
“It’s really beautiful and lovely and has such heart-wrenching moments,” Durance says. “There are so many fun, quirky moments.”
“It’s a crash course in reality for me,” she adds, about moving from “Smallville” to the world of Hope Zion Hospital. “It’s much more drama.”
The executive producers, who joined the three leads on stage, are careful not to reveal too much, especially about the fate of coma patient, Charlie. But Ilana Frank does reveal that the otherworldly element is integral to the show. “It’s an element that makes it different from a regular procedural.
“It’s a big, lovely fantastic season,” she promises.
Once Upon A Time
Lana Parrilla, who plays the dual characters of The Evil Queen and Mayor Regina Mills in “Once Upon A Time,” was also in attendance at the CTV Upfront to speak about the show’s successful first season and what’s in store for the upcoming one.
She believes the reason shows like “Once,” as well as other current adaptations and movies about fairytales, have made a resurgence recently is because they offer something that other shows don’t – hope.
“Just to kind of escape a little bit and go back to your fond childhood memories, or not so fond, whatever it is. There was the vampire trend for a while and it’s still out there, the zombies came in and now we’re back to all the stories we grew up knowing and reading,” says Parrilla.
“I think it’s all fascinating it’s all happening right now … maybe it’s for us to dream again. The world is a chaotic place so maybe we all have to escape a little bit and just sit back and be entertained. ”
And greeted by the first, and only standing ovation of the morning, the cast and producers of “Flashpoint” took to the stage to discuss the series’ fifth and final season.
The cast, including Hugh Dillon (Ed Lane), Enrico Colantoni (Greg Parker), Amy Jo Johnson (Jules Callaghan), David Paetkau (Sam Braddock) and Sergio Di Zio (Mike 'Spike' Scarlatti), and executive producers Anne Marie La Traverse and Bill Mustos, all agree on one thing – shooting the final season has been an emotional and satisfying experience.
“It’s been an explosive season,” says Dillon, who was also celebrating his birthday. “We’ve got great writers and people who have such integrity on every level – behind the scenes in the camera department, in the art department, everywhere,” he adds.
The cast is careful not to let any spoilers slip, but Dillon promises the last season is “exceptional.”
“We push the envelope every year and we always try to make each individual show and then the whole season a bit bigger . . . the fact that we were able to make the decision a few weeks ago that we were going to make this our last season has been incredible,” adds Mustos.
“It’s meant we can write to a really satisfying conclusion, we can wrap up storylines that have been brewing for 73 episodes and bring everything to a really beautiful close. We can creatively shape … the way this season is going to play out.”
Other new shows on the CTV and CTV Two fall lineup include medical drama “Emily Owens, M.D.;” psychological thriller “The Following,” starring Kevin Bacon; cop-drama “Golden Boy,” with Theo James; paranormal drama, “Zero Hour” with Anthony Edwards; a modern Jekyll and Hyde take “Do No Harm,” CTV original drama “Motive” (working title) as well as comedies “The New Normal,” “The Neighbors,” “The Family Tools” and Charlie Sheen’s much-buzzed about new sitcom “Anger Management.”