Production Begins on Highland Gardens

Filming for Epitome’s new show Highland Gardens began today. The show, which stars former Degrassi cast member Cassie Steele, was originally rumoured to be a Degrassi spinoff. However, a new press release that came out today suggests that that is no longer the case. The series also stars Joe Dinicol, Chelan Simmons, Jewel Staite, and Benjamin Watson. It is about a group of young performers who are living in an apartment-style hotel in Hollywood. Read more about the show in today’s press release:

Whether they stay a week, a month, or 40 years, the denizens of HIGHLAND GARDENS provide something to each other that’s in short supply elsewhere in Hollywood: support. The ensemble drama stars:
•Joe Dinicol (MURDOCH MYSTERIES, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) as “nice-guy” Nick, a struggling stand-up comedian from Edmonton who is always the best friend and never the boyfriend;
•Andra Fuller (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Entourage) as Kaldrick, the extremely successful Hip-Hop artist hailing from the streets of Oakland, California;
•Jonathan Patrick Moore (Neighbours, All Saints) as Connor, a break-out Australian with drop-dead good looks and a dark past;
•Chelan Simmons (SMALLVILLE, SUPERNATURAL, KYLE XY) as Alicia, a sensitive, aspiring dancer from Regina who will do whatever it takes to make ends meet;
•Jewel Staite (FLASH FORWARD, STARGATE ATLANTIS) as the street-smart Haligonian Raquel, who’s frightened of becoming yesterday’s news;
•Cassie Steele (DEGRASSI, RELIC HUNTER) as Abby, the naïve Toronto actor who is ready to fight to get to the top;
•and Benjamin Charles Watson (Todd and the Book of PURE Evil, The Listener) as Tariq, the confident and talented African-Canadian hip-hop artist with a secret on the down low.

Stephen Stohn Talks Spin-Off, New Characters, and More

Stephen Stohn gave a very interesting and insightful interview with The Star Scoop recently. He answered A LOT of ongoing questions the fans have. Firstly, he mentions that season 11 hasn’t technically been picked up by the networks yet, but it’s very likely that it will happen (no surprise there). He also talks about his favourite storylines, a new energy on set, and the possibility of any old characters coming back. AND we now know that the characters they are casting now (see these descriptions) are not the new grade 9′s expected to be introduced in the 2nd half of season 11. The new grade 9 class will be cast later, assuming season 11 moves forward. Finally, a big question on the minds of many fans has been this never ending talk of a spin-off. There have been Degrassi spin-off rumours since season 6. Here’s the latest from Stephen Stohn himself:

We’ve heard rumblings about a Degrassi spin off – what is the status (is this true?) and who might be included?

We’re working on the new show with the working title Highlands Gardens. It might or might not be a Degrassi spin-off — we’re still deciding. One of the characters could be a Degrassi character, although it could work not being a Degrassi character also, so we’re developing the show with both possibilities in mind. Shooting will be in August/September, so we’ll have had to make up our minds by then!

Click here to read the full interview.

Epitome Pictures Announces New TV Series

A Degrassi spinoff? Not quite. But CTV announced in a press release today that the network has ordered a new drama series from Epitome Pictures (Degrassi’s production company). Ever since the cancellation of Instant Star, we’ve been waiting to hear when Epitome will take on another show. Now we have an official announcement! The one hour drama series is called Highland Gardens, and focuses on 6 young Canadians as they pursue their dreams in Hollywood. Here’s what the press release had to say:

CTV Orders Two, New One-Hour Original Pilots SAVING HOPE and STAY WITH ME // MuchMusic and CTV Order New One-Hour Drama Series HIGHLAND GARDENS

Toronto, ON (December 9, 2010) – CTV announced today that it has ordered two, new one-hour original drama pilots for the network. Additionally, MuchMusic and CTV also announced today that they have ordered a new one-hour original drama series.

For MuchMusic and CTV and from the internationally acclaimed and Gemini Award-winning Epitome Pictures producing team of Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn (DEGRASSI) comes the six-episode one-hour drama HIGHLAND GARDENS (working title). Executive Produced and written by Martin Gero (Bored to Death, Young People F*cking), HIGHLAND GARDENS follows the ins and outs of an apartment-style motel in LA which draws aspiring Canadian hopefuls looking for a place to rest their heads while they chase their Hollywood dreams. Production is scheduled to begin in Summer 2011.

Small fish. Big pond. Huge dreams. The sexy new drama HIGHLAND GARDENS focuses on six young Canadians as they try their luck in LA, pursuing celluloid and stardom, along with a few thousand other uber-motivated hopefuls. Moving into an apartment-style motel for displaced dreamers, each dubbed “most likely to succeed”, they all face the challenges and opportunities of a lifetime. Can they achieve their heart’s desire without selling their souls? The six-episode first season of HIGHLAND GARDENS will be showrun and executive produced by Martin Gero (Young People F*cking, BORED TO DEATH) and executive produced by Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn from Epitome Pictures (DEGRASSI) in association with MuchMusic. The series is funded by the CHUM Benefits Trendsetters and Risktakers fund