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No. 16: Because Hollywood North won’t quit

Even a global pandemic couldn’t slow film and TV production for long

No. 16: Because Hollywood North won’t quit

Lady Dicks is a buddy-cop comedy starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is the New Black) as two detectives in their 40s with opposing personalities—Sam irons her T-shirts; Kelly’s socks never match—and similarly incongruous approaches to police work. It’s the brainchild of Toronto showrunners Tassie Cameron and Sherry White, who worked together for six years on the procedural Rookie Blue and wanted to make something lighter, female-led and more distinctly Canadian. Filming was set to begin in early spring, but just as they were preparing to move into the studio, well, you know. Their production and the industry in general shut down while Covid cases climbed. The solution was simple at first—loan out the space to the Daily Bread food bank and wait for reopening. But while they waited, and waited, the world changed. As calls to address police brutality and systemic racism grew, Cameron, White and their team headed back to the writer’s room. They reread their scenes with a fresh perspective. Sequences where a cop beat up a suspect were cut. Plotlines were scrapped. On August 31, when production resumed, Lady Dicks emerged smarter, more nuanced, more cognizant of the complexity of the moment and of the vital role popular culture plays in shaping attitudes.

Thanks to Netflix and its many lookalikes, the slowdown didn’t last long. Across Toronto, productions picked up where they left off, and there will soon be more space for more shows and movies. In February 2021, three new sound stages are set to open at Studio City, adding 70,000 square feet to the existing production space, and the city has released an RFP for an 8.9-acre film and TV hub to be developed in the Port Lands, in the heart of what Mayor Tory is calling the media city district.

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