The Listener Set Visit

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Tonight, The Listener returns for Season 5 on CTV at 9p.m. , and our good friends at Shaftesbury and CTV invited Sue and I over to chat with the cast, and have a look at the fantastic sets on the gorgeous Pinewoods Studios here in Toronto. Located on the east end of town, close to the water front, travelling there via TTC, you’re not sure you’re in the right place, until you see the gorgeous, grey buildings, rooms that house imagination, springing from carefully tended and coiffed grounds, where the first hints of greenery were finally making an appearance.

Sue and I waited, affording ourselves the opportunity to sit in some ridiculously comfy chairs in the lobby, and were shortly collected by some Shaftesbury reps, who guided us through the parking lots encompassing the buildings. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a glimpse of del Toro (call us!) who is shooting Haunted Peak in the same collection of studios.

We’re guided inside the immense Studio 11, and as we step into the darkness, we breached my favorite moment of walking onto a set. When you first lay eyes on most interior sets, before you step on them, all you can see is the construction, the wood, the rigging for lights, maybe a window, maybe a giant day or night backdrop, and then you cross the threshold…

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And we found ourselves inside a delightful little gastro-pub, the gorgeously appointed, Pasazade. The pub that Oz (Ennis Esmer) is now running, and the site of today’s meet and greet with the cast and the first stop on the set tour being provided to Sue and I.

As we are taking in the sights, it’s virtually indistinguishable from any bar you may have ever found yourself in, except for the fact that there’s no alcohol in the bottles, we’re greeted by Tanya Koivusalo from CTV, who continues to look after us wonderfully. We spend a few minutes catching up, before being let loose on the set to examine, touch, and photograph the sights.

This is a place I could see myself hanging out in on a regular basis, coming down the steps to be greeted by friends, and having a drink and a laugh…

One of which came our way  a few minutes later!

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We sit down with Ennis, after introducing ourselves again, we had a brief hello at the premiere for Sex After Kids, directed by Jeremy Lalonde. We have a laugh, and talk about Oz, his new environment, and how the interaction between characters has changed. A chat that is momentarily crashed by someone we hadn’t seen in a while…

We watch etalk set up from our vantage point on the other side of the bar… the set… the bar set, when a familiar face makes its way over to us, and we find ourselves greeted warmly by the very awesome Anthony Lemke, who we had the pleasure of chatting with in the studio awhile back (special shout out to his Mom!!). He’s back this season as the gruff-voiced cop, and new head of the IIB, Supervising Inspector Brian Becker.

We chat amiably for a few minutes until a P.A. summons him to wardrobe regarding a hat, and the amount that it should be crushed.

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Wandering around with our official IIB files, we watch the others who’ve been invited set their gear up until Anthony returns, and is ushered back to our table, where we chat about his return to the series, the way it’s changed, and just plain catch up with one another.

After we’re finished chatting with Anthony, it is announced that lunch is served. Keeping in theme with Oz’s restaurant and heritage, lunch is a flavorful Turkish affair provided for by Anatolia, seconds and even thirds are easy to put away!

As we’re finishing up, Anthony joins us at our table again, and we all just laugh and talk, catching up, discussing dogs, kids, and how insanely busy we all seem to be!

When Anthony has to take his leave, we are introduced to Natalie Krill, who is playing Alex Kendrick, a new character this season, a forensic technician, who helps Toby (Craig Olejnik) and the gang in their cases week to week.

When she leaves, we’re quickly introduced to the series show runner, Peter Mohan, who has had his hand in some damned fine television!

At that point Sue and I are collected by the very fun unit publicist Mario Tassone and we get to see the rest of the sets!!

First up, we find ourselves, in the gorgeously appointed home belonging to Michelle McCluskey (Lauren Lee Smith) and Adam Reynolds (Kris Holden-Ried) as well as their new baby (some of the pictures of the trio are great!). It’s a stunning place, and there is some talk between Sue, Mario and I about what Adam and Michelle must be doing in their time off to be able to afford such a nice place.

That being said, production designer, Lindsay Hemmer-Bell has done a brilliant job, and once you are inside that space, you almost can’t believe it’s a set! It’s comfortable, brightly lit (the beauty of studio lighting), and sure, the kitchen doesn’t really work, but I could make a go of it there.

As we walk and talk, we learn that for the most part, The Listener shoots one episode every six days. That makes for a very fast pace and full work schedule, especially when you consider that 14 to 16 hour days are the norm for shooting television.

Just wow.

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No sooner have we processed this fact, something I’ve heard on other sets, and I think if it was really something I loved, those long hours, and work weeks wouldn’t bother me so much, than we step into the Integrated Investigative Bureau. The operational center, where Toby, McCluskey, Becker, Kendrick, and Dev (Rainbow Sun Francks) work to resolve their weekly caseload. We wander through Kendrick’s lab, peer into McCluskey’s office, rifle through Toby’s desk, and take a look at the suspect board.

It’s brilliant, and even though I know the imagery out the window is a backdrop, it’s unnervingly believable, when looked at. It’s even more disconcerting when outside the board room, it’s clearly night-time, but in the office area, it’s day…

From there we step through the elevator doors, and find ourselves next to a set of stairs… the IIB set is a double-decker, atop it, in a very symbolic move, is Toby’s new home, which he shares with his girlfriend, and if McCluskey’s house was gorgeous, Toby’s is comfortable – stylish, laid back, and says home.

Following that, we head back to the Pasazade, where we get to have a couple more chats!

We sit down and chat with the incredibly funny Rainbow Sun Francks, and I rave to him for a minute or two about playing Ford on Stargate: Atlantis, before having a brief but hilarious chat about his role as Dev on the Listener, and how he probably solves more cases, and does more of the work than Toby does.

And then finally to end our day, we get to catch up with our friend Lauren Lee Smith, hugs and laughs abound, as we get all caught up on one another’s lives, share stories, and happenings, and of course talk about The Listener.

And before you know it, as the three of us are sitting there just chinwagging, we’ve closed the place down… Sue and I are the last of the visiting media to leave that day, literally the last ones to leave the Pasazade, and we step back out into the sunlight, and a busy Toronto afternoon.

It was a fun look at a show that continues to garner fans and popularity, and was a great way to bring attention to the beginning of the new season… which is tonight at 9p.m. On CTV!!!

Check it out!!

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