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Feb 2012
Interviews  •  By  •  0 Comments

Much like her latest character, Abby Vargas on The L.A. Complex, Cassie is cute and brassy, the ultimate girl next door, with a rough, punky edge. Charming and oft-recognized as Manny Santos from her 10 seasons on cult Canadian series Degrassi: The Next Generation, Cassie makes her return to Canadian television. The Toronto actress, singer, songwriter, is now staring in the hot series The L.A. Complex broadcast on MuchMusic, and The CW in the spring. Big things are in store for this stylish starlet.

A: Congrats on your new series The L.A. Complex! I’ve seen the first season and it is AWESOME! Your character Abby is a struggling Canadian actor in L.A. can you tell me about your real-life experience as an actor? Was it anything as dramatic?

C: My personal experience was actually quite similar, and although our situations were different they were just as dramatic. Or I’m very dramatic.

A: Not unlike your character on the show, you are a singer and an actor. But you also write your own music! Can you tell me a bit about your current musical inspirations?

C: Right now I’m working on my third album and I’m so excited to finish and have everyone hear it! I really love writing music, but my formula is a bit different from the usual “let’s collaborate!” sessions. I write the lyrics and melody with an idea of what the end product should sound like, and then I call up my good old friend Isaac Hasson to bring it to life. I usually have writers block, because I literally can only write about personal experiences… if I release a song about murder, stay away.

A: What are your Top 10 songs on your iPod?

C: Gosh, I’m really not sure… my screen is broken so I kind of just hope I land on something great. I really like this Seattle based band The Head and the Heart, also The Vaccines and The Horrors… I’m a big fan of English boys. And their music.

A: Really LOVE your unique and edge-y sense of style! What are your favourite places to shop?

C: My girlfriend has an amazing store Queen W. called “Jacflash“. She’s got a great eye and usually doesn’t order more than a couple to a size, so nearly no one else will have it!!! I love vintage shops like “Chosen” and “I miss you”, also anything online. I love online shopping.

Feb 2012
Exclusives, Highland Gardens  •  By  •  0 Comments

Last Tuesday’s episode was all about hook ups and heartbreak on The L.A. Complex. Abby and Nick took their friendship a step further, and Connor’s insecurities at work and with women were explained with a devastating flashback.

Check out Cassie Steele, Joe Dinicol and Jonathan Patrick Moore recap the season thus far and give a sneak peek into where their characters are headed in the final two episodes of Season 1!

Watch a brand new episode of The L.A. Complex Tuesday at 9 pm ET exclusively on MuchMusic. Want more of The L.A. Complex? Click here for photos, episodes, interviews, blogs and more!

Feb 2012
Exclusives, Interviews  •  By  •  0 Comments

Cassie Steele is the star of one of the coolest TV shows right now, The LA Complex. And with that level of cool comes a level of swag. Not everyone is so confident in their favourite ice cream choice, right? I mean is mine mint chocolate chip? Strawberry? Cookies ‘n cream? I can’t decide! Anyways, find out what Cassie’s fave is and a whole bunch of other interesting facts about her in the clip below.

Jan 2012
Exclusives, Highland Gardens, Projects  •  By  •  0 Comments

On Tuesday’s brand new episode of The L.A. Complex there was no shortage of OH EM GEE moments. From Abby catching Connor in bed with his co-star to finding out that Connor self-harms, Episode 3 brought the dramz in a big, big way.

For a full recap of the episode click here, but why not find out what Cassie Steele and Jonathan Patrick Moore had to say about their shocking episode as well? Check out their interviews under the jump!

Jan 2012
Highland Gardens, Projects  •  By  •  0 Comments

Echo Bridge Entertainment has picked up the international distribution rights for The CW/MuchMusic soap The L.A. Complex from Canadian indie producer Epitome Pictures.

The distribution agreement adds the Canadian drama to Echo Bridge’s 2012 programming slate that already includes ten TV movies, three documentaries and a new lifestyle series.

Echo Bridge handled international sales for previous Epitome Pictures series, including Degrassi and Instant Star.

The CW earlier this month bought six episodes of The L.A. Complex, a one-hour series about Canadians chasing the Hollywood dream that was shot in Toronto and Los Angeles in summer 2011.

Another seven episodes of the soap are expected if the initial six episodes connects with North American viewers.

The CW plans a spring bow for The L.A. Complex, which was created and is executive produced by Martin Gero, who wrote for HBO’s Bored to Death before returning to Canada to write the homegrown drama tailored for the U.S. market.

Jan 2012
Exclusives, Highland Gardens, Projects  •  By  •  0 Comments

If you want to get the scoop on what’s next in Canadian television, you have to come to L.A.

More and more, with production costs ever rising, Canadian networks are looking to partner up with American broadcasters on content deals both countries can share.

It doesn’t always work. For every Flashpoint you have a couple of Combat Hospitals. That shot-in-Toronto series was the most watched scripted hit in Canada last summer, but when it failed to find an audience on ABC it was shut down, an example of a Canadian hit being cancelled by a U.S. network.

Being on brand may be the key to landing a two-country content deal. A good example is The L.A. Complex, a shot-in-Toronto drama about aspiring young Canadian actors in Hollywood just picked up by The CW network.

“We’re leaving no stone unturned, we’ll look at everything,” says Thom Sherman, head of development at The CW. Sherman says The L.A. Complex was brought to him by CTV and the agency that represents the project for international sales, William Morris Endeavor.

“We loved it,” says Sherman. “It’s an authentic look at people trying to make it in Los Angeles. It was edgy and smart, funny and fresh, and it just felt like a show that belonged on our network.”

The original plan was to air the series in summer, but The CW is so high on The L.A. Complex, which hails from the people behind the Degrassi franchise, the plan now is to put it on after One Tree Hill ends in April or May.

Jan 2012
Exclusives, Highland Gardens, Projects  •  By  •  0 Comments

It’s no secret there are a ton of aspiring Canadian actors toiling away in Hollywood. After all, before they become the next Ryan Reynolds or Rachel McAdams, they’ve got to start somewhere. CTV/MuchMusic’s latest show, “The L.A. Complex,” follows the lives of six aspiring Canadian entertainers living in a run-down apartment-style hotel in La-La Land. The dreamers range from girl-next-door actress Abby (“Degrassi”s Cassie Steele) to nerdy nice-guy comedian Nick (Joe Dinicol) to bitter acting vet Raquel (“Firefly”‘s Jewel Staite).

The show is already generating a ton of buzz, and has even been picked up by US network The CW. We caught up with executive producer/director/writer Martin Gero (“Young People F**king,” “Bored to Death”) to find out how the show differs from “Degrassi,” what it’s like working with director Stefan ‘Snake’ Brogren from the original “Degrassi,” and how “Bored to Death” fans can get their favourite show back on the air.

How did you initially get involved with “The L.A. Complex”?

Epitome had just done “Degrassi Goes to Hollywood” and [former CTV president] Ivan Fecan said he’s always wanted to do a show about Canadians living in L.A., considering there’s probably more Canadians living in L.A. than there are in Halifax or Regina. For whatever reason, he was like “Why don’t we get that “F**king” guy?” [Laughs] I hope he meant the movie!

So they asked me if I was interested. I was kind of reticent to do a show about the entertainment industry, but when we got our heads around the fact that they didn’t want it to be”‘Glee” or “Entourage,” I thought, well, the most interesting thing for me is the years before
“Entourage,” the times where you’re operating with no wisdom. I worked at Starbucks for two years when I was in my 20s, and I perpetually felt like I was a week away from being able to quit. That was such an exciting, crazy time in my life.

I read that it was originally supposed to be a “Degrassi” spin-off?

It was talked about very briefly at the beginning. I never wrote it as a “Degrassi” spin-off. I think people just got their wires crossed because it had grown out of the “Degrassi Goes to Hollywood” special. But for the most part we wrote it as its own thing. It comes from the same producers. It’s a much more adult show.

Do you think there are any similarities to “Degrassi” at all, besides the obvious connections of Cassie Steele and Epitome?

Yeah. What “Degrassi” does so well is they’re able to cover a lot of great issues in a way that doesn’t make you feel like they’re dealing with issues. It’s just organic to the storytelling. I hope that we’ve done that to a certain extent on the show. I don’t know. I haven’t watched a ton of “The Next Generation,” so I’m a bad barometer for how the show differs from it. I know I loved the original “Degrassi” a lot.

What’s it like for you, as a fan of the original, working with Stefan Brogren?

It’s great. He lets me call him “Snake” all the time! I ask him questions about The Zit Remedy, like who was the real songwriting genius behind The Zit Remedy songs, was it just Joey, or was it more of a group thing? Because they were like our Beatles! No, it was great. He’s come so far. He’s developed an enormous amount of skill, both as a producer and a director.

Are any of the characters inspired by real people?

Yes. All of them.


The experiences are so universal, even if you’re not in the entertainment industry. Almost every actor that came in and auditioned said, “You have no idea, I’ve never been so close to a part!” And you’re like yeah, ya think? It’s an unemployed actor trying to get a job — that’s pretty close to what you are, probably.

So are the people that inspired the characters people that you know, people that have gone on to become famous or kind of a mix of both?

Yeah, both. I’ve been lucky enough to know people that have gone on to great fame and fortune, and people that haven’t. And they all have great stories. Somebody like Jewel [Staite], who I’ve been very good friends with for four or five years, although she’s not the basis for Raquel, there are a lot of similarities with the experiences that she’s gone through, and that our friends have gone through. I think the show has a painful reality to it that’s a lot of fun. [Laughs]

Do you have any favourite characters yet?

Well I’m partial to the Raquel character. I’m 34 and making a TV show with a bunch of 20-year-olds. That character’s exhaustion with the perky youth is a little bit shared by me right now! [Laughs] The great thing about this show is that in a way it felt like we were making six different TV shows because there are six leads. Although there is crossover, they all have their own stories.

Can we expect any cameos?

Well, no! [Laughs] I don’t want to give anything away! There’s one real quick funny one in episode 6, and then Paul Tompkins and Mary Lynn Rajskub in the first episode. Aside from seeing someone at a restaurant, it’s all outside the world of the show. Maybe in subsequent seasons as the show hopefully gains a bit more success, it’ll make more sense to bring people in. At this point it’d be weird if Ted Danson showed up.

I’ve heard that you’ve got a pretty cool set here. What’s it like filming a show about Canadians in Hollywood in Toronto?

It’s a challenge, certainly. The stuff we’ve been able to build up here has been amazing. We’ve built a fully functioning 23-room hotel, with a giant pool and a parking lot. We bussed in palm trees from Florida to make it look authentic. We’ve kind of converted a lot of the “Degrassi” sets. Like the “Degrassi” high school hallways, we turned into a hospital for our show within a show, “Critical Unit,” which is the show Connor stars on. The funniest set that nobody will probably ever know is a set, but we built a 200 x 40 foot Hollywood backlot set. Because our soundstages just look like shitty brick buildings in the middle of North York, which is what they are.

I was shocked to hear that “Bored to Death” wasn’t renewed. Do you think it might be revived if there’s enough of an outcry from fans?

I hope so! I really think our last season was the best season we’ve done. I think the show really hit its stride. It’s crazy to me that HBO doesn’t want those three guys on their network for two months of the year! They’re just so, so fantastic. HBO has a good problem, which is they have so many shows right now, and they really only have one night of programming. I feel like we just got squeezed out a bit. But you never know, people are asking if they should start petitions. But if you want a show to come back, you have to buy the boxed sets. That’s what brings shows back. When you talk about “Family Guy” and “Futurama” and stuff like that, they weren’t brought back with petitions. They were brought back with hard numbers. Go to iTunes and if you want “Bored to Death” back, buy all the seasons and we’ll see what happens! Maybe a movie.