Press: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Star Dan Levy on Creating TV’s Best Kept Secret

Co-created by Dan Levy and his father, Eugene, Schitt’s Creek was presented as a fish-out-of-water sitcom about a snobbish, rich family — the Roses — stripped of their opulence and forced to rebuild their lives in a small town when it first premiered in February 2016 on Pop. While they bemoan their new existence, Johnny (Eugene Levy) and Moira (Catherine O’Hara), and their two kids Alexis (Annie Murphy) and David (Dan Levy) — the very definition of narcissism and privilege — soon discover alternative lives that may not be as bad as they once seemed.

Initially, while bitingly funny, any fondness or empathy for the Roses didn’t seem possible. But over the course of the series, something’s changed. Schitt’s Creek got softer and sweeter. In the show’s third and fourth seasons, David finds the courage to hug Alexis, Moira tries to be a caring mom to a sick Alexis, and David lets his walls come tumbling down after being serenaded by his boyfriend, Patrick (Noah Reid).

Now, this word-of-mouth comedy is making its fans both cry and laugh and cry again as it continues to gain more fans in the U.S. — yes, even Carol Burnett — and earn its first nomination in an American awards show.

In a conversation with ET, Dan Levy talked about full-circle moments (including a Mariah Carey retweet), writing for his dad and what’s to come for the Roses as he looks ahead to their upcoming Christmas special and season five.

ET: When did you know that Americans had finally discovered what Canadians and gays already knew as TV’s best-kept secret?
Dan Levy: I do feel like we’ve been building toward this, and the intention of the show from the very beginning was to have the audience grow with these people. We’ve been peeling back the layers [of these characters], and I think by the time we got to our fourth season, which I think was the fuzziest in terms of the sentimentality marrying with comedy, we were in a place culturally where people were ready to accept that kind of humor. I do feel like the fan base has grown in a very organic way, and it’s a very rewarding feeling as a storyteller because it means that what we’re doing is working and that we’re not just sustaining people, we’re actually continuing to excite, which is wonderful.

Even though it’s won 13 Canadian Screen Awards, your MTV Movie & TV Awards nomination for Best Comedic Performance is the first time the show has been honored by any U.S. awards show. What did that feel like?
I was floored. Does Catherine O’Hara deserve an Emmy? Absolutely. Is the show big enough to get people’s attention? Who knows. But I think the work is there for her. But [the MTV nomination] is a wonderful thing — and I’ve worked at MTV. I was a VJ at MTV and actually hosted the Movie Awards red carpet one year about 10 years ago. I was such a bad red carpet host.

I don’t believe you!
Oh, no, it was so bad. Because you have to ask people like, “Hey, Sienna Miller, what are you wearing?” And I knew in my head, this is not my job. I have the utmost respect for red carpet interviewers; it is such a hard job. It was at that moment when I was like, I think I have something else to do. And to have this full-circle moment where I’m now being recognized by MTV at the same sort of award show that I started out as a host, I mean, it’s just the most rewarding.

Was it then that you began developing Schitt’s Creek?
I left the year after, so I would say it was about a year and a half later when we started working on the show. But I will say I will not expect to win in any way. I’m pretty sure people are looking at me on that list being like, “Who is this person?”

How has the cast dynamic changed since the pilot episode? Is there a different rhythm to the way you and your co-stars interact on set?
For us, we were lucky enough to start right off the bat with a cast who just were these people, and we didn’t have to find voices because our cast was so strong and was so deeply embedded into the characters to begin with. Comedy is not easy to begin with, but comedy that also dances with drama, it’s so hard. And with a team of actors young and old who have inspired me on the daily — they make it look so easy, and it’s really not. We’ve really grown as a family.

Is that same comedy-drama dance one that will carry into the next season?
I think so. Inherently, there will be a little more weight to everything because the audience cares about these people and they’re rooting for them. And that’s what life is, I think.

Does art imitate life? Are these storylines taken from your life with your dad and the rest of your family?
There are a few moments. Like any writing team, everyone puts their own experiences into it. I think my dad is closer to the character of Johnny than I am to David, which makes it fun for us to write for him because I’m so aware of what he will be excited by in terms of just comedy. The more you work with any cast, the more you’re able to write little isms into the dialogue that speak on a slightly more intimate level to the actual actor playing the part. That’s been really fun. The more I get to know Annie, the more I get to write about her in ways that, as a brother and sister duo outside of the show now — we feel like that as friends now — I’m able to put in a jab here and there. She’ll be like, “So, talking about my natural deodorant? Is that a personal thing or is that a character thing?” And I’m like, “Well, we’ll never know, now will we?”

Who gets to take jabs at you then?
Well, I’m the most self-deprecating person on the whole show! Everything from David’s tendency to overeat to his complete self-deprecation, I mean, all those things come from my own little well. I think if you can’t make fun of yourself, then what are you doing? I don’t think I am quite as boldly confident as David is. I question things a little bit more. You can’t constantly live at a 10.

David has such stilted, dramatic speech affectation, and his many facial contortions; how did you go about creating those David characteristics?
I can only describe it as: If there were no rules in terms of social etiquette, what would I look like? How would we all manifest how we feel on our faces if social etiquette or manners or any kind of social norms were never in place? That was sort of the jumping-off point for David, a person who has absolutely no filter over how he reacts to situations. Everything is dramatic. Every sort of problem is a monstrous catastrophe. Nothing is ever easy, nothing is ever peaceful. And this is a character that, in sort of his own way, thrives in chaos. The physicality of it, despite my constant fear that I’m just mugging for the camera.

Is that really a fear of yours?
Yeah. I think it’s a tricky thing, because you don’t ever want to make a character feel like a caricature. For me, it’s always making sure that we don’t get into cartoon land. I’m always sort of running to the director being like, “Was it too big?” because it can get a bit crazy at times.

Did you know from the beginning it’d be a boyfriend who would expose David’s heart to us?
Yeah. I knew he was going to get a boyfriend, and this person was going to be the perfect counterbalance to his sort of neurotic, anxiety-ridden self.

How many takes did you do for your version of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” and how many did Noah do?
What Noah did for that song was so brilliant. He could just keep singing it and I would just keep crying [laughs]. He just knocked it out of the park. For me, I showed up to set not knowing anything about what I was going to do with it. All I did was learn the lyrics to the song. I hadn’t choreographed anything. I had no real plan. I didn’t know how it would even look. I was in the process of doing my writing job, and it was only at lunch that I thought, Oh, I have this after lunch. So, I had my assistant run out and get a bottle of prosecco, and Noah and I consumed a bottle of prosecco at lunch and then went in there. I would say 90 percent of what you saw was the very first take that I did. But it was also easy because I’d found the gesture of the character itself so liberating for him. This is someone who had never experienced love before. I sort of sat in that character for a minute and thought, This is what you have to do: You have to wear a leather Givenchy sweater and dance around in a room and show this person that you mean business.

In the season four finale, Patrick professed his love to David, telling him, “You’re my Mariah Carey.” So, when is Mariah Carey getting her cameo on Schitt’s Creek?
[Laughs] Um, listen, you never know. It’s a strange thing. I think everyone has their people that sort of trigger an emotional, full-circle-moment response. I have been a Mariah Carey fan — hers was one of the first CDs I ever bought. As a little gay kid, I was obsessed with Mariah Carey, and then this moment [when she tweeted about the show], it triggered a very excited, emotional response in me, because not only does it mean she’s aware of the show, but she’s aware of that scene. She’s aware of that relationship! Or, she could’ve just retweeted it or someone else could’ve done it for her. But either way it came from her account, and yeah, I’m running with it.

I bet you could work Mariah into the Jazzagals, the town’s all-female a capella group, at some point.
Or she’ll just be stopping by Rose Apothecary and picking up a few things some time soon.

But you better get the plungers out of the front. Mariah would not find that acceptable.
I’ll be laying down a red carpet for that one. It’ll be her and Carol Burnett in the same episode, and we’ll just see what happens.

About Carol: What went through your mind when she told Jimmy Kimmel she binges your show?
First of all, I immediately just started picturing Carol Burnett flipping through Netflix, which brought me a lot of joy. You know, it’s a small show. We shoot it in Canada, it’s very tiny, and we don’t ever imagine the scope of it. But these unsolicited endorsements? It’s great. So, you know, Carol singing your praises, I mean, who is bigger than that in comedy? I don’t know where you go from there.

Do you think we will ever see the Roses back in the poshness of their natural habitat?
I can’t say either way. I will say that we have a holiday episode that is coming out in December and there are things that happen in that episode that we’ve never seen before. It’s a longer episode than normal. I ended up directing it with a very close friend of mine from film school, actually. And we may or may not see a little bit of their past. Who knows. But I’ve always been a big fan of the Downton Abbey Christmas special. I love a good holiday special. So it was a dream to make one. I think a Schitt’s Creek Holiday is a very special episode and the first episode that I directed.

What are the Roses like at Christmas?
They don’t handle the holidays well, is what I’ll say.

What are you most looking forward to about season five?
Like anything, we try to build and expand the show. We try to continue to push our characters and excite our actors by throwing them into situations that we haven’t seen before. I think there’s some big life stuff that happens this year that is really exciting.

Exciting or sad?
Exciting!

I’m looking for reasons to cry.
There will be! I think at this point there will always be that emotional undercurrent. There’s an episode I wrote this season that I think is my favorite episode we’ve ever done. It’s certainly an incredibly meaningful episode for me on a personal level, and I just wept through the whole thing. You weep for a bunch of reasons, but I think as a showrunner I take such pride in our team — not just our actors, [but] in our writing team, in our art department — that to watch something come together with that kind of synergy and have it sing to me is an incredibly moving experience. And when you couple that with a storyline that I have waited a long time to tell, it’s a gift. Not a day goes by that I’m not totally grateful for the opportunity.
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Press/Audio: TVLine Podcast with Dan Levy

TVLine Podcast: Dream Emmy Nominee Daniel Levy on That Legendary Lip Sync and Christmas in Schitt’s Creek — Plus: Sunrise Bay Flashbacks in Season 5?
After Daniel Levy downed half a bottle of Prosecco and lip-synced to Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” during Season 4 of Pop TV’s insanely addictive Schitt’s Creek, he thought, “My career could be over, or maybe there’s something OK here.” In fact, there was something so much more than OK there that he rose to the top of the list of TVLine’s Dream Emmy nominees for Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy.

In (not the first but, owing to internal scheduling issues) the latest TVLine Podcast dedicated to the performers who oughta be 2018 contenders, Levy reveals to Editor-in-Chief Michael Ausiello why, in a way, we have the Kardashians to thank for David and his outré family. The series’ co-creator also admits that the show almost had to go on without Catherine O’Hara as wiggy matriarch Moira and previews the upcoming Christmas episode, which marks Levy’s debut as a director. Over the holidays, he hints, “we might get to see more of [the Roses’] past life.”

If not in that winter standalone, will Season 5 give us a peek at Moira starring on her old soap opera, Sunrise Bay? Press PLAY on the widget below to find out, and be sure to subscribe at iTunes to ensure that you never miss a TVLine Podcast.
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Press: The Best TV Shows of 2018 (So Far)

The year so far has been crammed with so much great television that even with many standbys absent from the scene — fan favorites including “Better Call Saul,” “Game of Thrones,” and “Veep” have not broadcast episodes in 2018 — a list of the year’s great TV feels comprehensive, even with half the year to go. This list of 13 television shows and one TV movie, a mix of new and returning broadcasts, is an attempt to name some of what stood out most sharply to Variety‘s critics: Those shows that, in an unprecedentedly crowded landscape, demanded our attention and earned our appreciation. The first half of the year has been strong enough to make the eventual task of winnowing down a year-end best list seem very difficult indeed; for now, here are some shows from the past six months worth catching up on.

Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
The Canadian comedy about a rich family stripped of everything began as a delightfully silly showcase for its cast, including Dan and Eugene Levy (who co-created the show), the ever-incredible Catherine O’Hara, and the surprisingly formidable Annie Murphy. But four seasons later, “Schitt’s Creek” has evolved right alongside its characters to become more confident and mature. Dan Levy, who also serves as writer and showrunner, finds a worthy partner onscreen in Noah Reid’s Patrick. Murphy more than holds her own as her spoiled Alexis lets herself open up. And the reliable team that is Eugene Levy and O’Hara build on decades of working together to make their married characters ring both true and deeply absurd. — CF
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Press/Video: Eugene And Daniel Levy On The Inclusivity And Love At The Heart Of ‘Schitt’s Creek’

Four seasons ago, Pop TV comedy series Schitt’s Creek began with a compelling fish-out-of-water premise. Following the wealthy Rose family and their life of excess, the series really got cooking when they all went broke, resulting in them moving to a run-down town they once bought as a joke.

The Contenders Emmys 2018
While this conceit is essential to the series, for co-creator and star Daniel Levy, the show has always been about love. “It’s been about leaving them in this town to realize what is truly important. That was really the thrust of the show from the very beginning, and fortunately, you can tell so many stories about love,” he told TVLine’s Michael Ausiello last month during the comedy’s panel at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys. “It presents itself in so many different iterations. That’s been what the joy has been for us, to continue to reveal that to these characters.”

Co-creator Eugene Levy, appearing on the panel with his son as well as co-stars Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy, discussed Schitt’s Creek as a place of inclusivity, emblematic of the series’ values.

“Now, the town itself is a community that deals with people for who they are, and not what they are. This is not a black, white or brown show; it’s not about gay or straight; it’s not about city/country; it’s not about male/female,” he said. “People are accepted for who they are, and that’s the good-feeling vibe about Schitt’s Creek.”

For more from the cast of the series—as they discuss Moira (O’Hara)’s wigs and a sibling relationship crafted seamlessly for the screen—click above.
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Press: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Heads To Syndication Via Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury

Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury has acquired U.S. broadcast syndication rights to Schitt’s Creek, the single-camera comedy that is the top-rated original show on Pop, the cable network co-owned by Lionsgate and CBS.
The series, created by Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy, stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Elliott, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy and Emily Hampshire. It centers on a wealthy family who goes broke and moves to Schitt’s Creek, a small town they once bought as a joke. Season five of the series, renewed by CBC and Pop, is currently in production.
The show has grown steadily, albeit from a modest base. Its fourth season, which wrapped April 11, drew 116% more adults 18-49 than the average viewership in the first season. Total viewership has nearly doubled.
“It is not every day you can walk into a TV station with a comedy this good, with a cast this talented and be able to point to the kind of ratings growth, social buzz and critical acclaim that Schitt’s Creek has generated,” said Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury. “We enter the off-network market as this renewed series is coming off of its highest-rated season in the U.S. and four consecutive seasons of audience growth.”
Commissioned by CBC, Schitt’s Creek is produced by Not A Real Company Productions and created by Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy. The executive producers are Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy, Andrew Barnsley, Fred Levy, David West Read and Ben Feigin. Schitt’s Creek is produced in association with CBC and Pop TV, and distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
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Photos: Deadline Emmy’s Contenders Event + Photo Session

Dan, Annie, Eugene, and Catherine are in attendance at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys event today. I’ve added some photos to the gallery. I will be adding more soon hopefully. Enjoy.

Photos: Dan And Emily Attend Wanderluxe Event

Dan and Emily attended the Air Canada’s Wanderluxe Charity Auction event yesterday. I’ve added some photos to the gallery. Enjoy!

Photos: Schitt’s Creek 4×12 HD Screencaps + Stills

What a finale!! This week’s episode (which was season 4’s finale) was phenomenal. I can’t wait for season 5. I can’t wait, I can’t wait! I’ve added HD screencaps and missing stills. I will work on adding all the missing extras from season 4 soon as well as any missing Schitt’s Creek images to the gallery. Enjoy!

Photos: Schitt’s Creek HD Screencaps

I’ve added HD screencaps from this week’s episode of Schitt’s Creek. What a great episode it was! I can’t wait for next week’s episode. This season is fantastic. Enjoy the photos.

Press: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ is home to TV’s best couple

Run, don’t walk to Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek,” airing 8 p.m. Wednesdays

A good comedy makes you laugh. But a great comedy makes you feel something more, and Pop TV’s Canadian import “Schitt’s Creek” has me feeling all kinds of things in its fourth season.

I could go on and on about just how unbelievably sharp and funny the tale of the high society Rose family’s descent from the penthouse to the titular middle-of-nowhere small town is week in and out. Like Catherine O’Hara’s superlative and fearless role as the bewigged and discernibly accented Moira. Or Anna Murphy’s surprisingly tender portrayal of Alexis’ venture to college and a real relationship. Or the whole incredibly colorful cast that populate this welcoming little town — of which more viewers should be aware, I might add.

But as the series approaches its season finale this month (it airs 8 p.m. Wednesdays), nothing is hitting the spot for me quite like the blossoming relationship between David (writer/co-creator Daniel Levy) and Patrick (Noah Reid). So much so that I dare say, in an age where every show has a ’ship or two, they are television’s best couple.

I had this realization a few episodes back when I was crying literal tears of joy as Patrick, a newly out gay man, sang an acoustic version of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” to a romantically jittery David in front of a crowd of their neighbors all tucked inside the business they started together.

To say it was a moving moment accentuated by everything we know about David is an understatement. As he fights the smile that slowly grows across his face, the walls he built with affluence, a bad dating track record and a family history of pushing real feelings down deeper begin to melt away. Even his normally detached mother, Moira, can’t look away from the gesture that has captivated her son. If you need a definition of a swoon-worthy moment, cue this up.

But a great TV relationship isn’t built in one moment. In the episodes that preceded and followed the performance (including a reprised lip sync of the song from David), the two proved to be perfect complements to one another. David is still hilariously high maintenance, demanding a level of leisure he can’t quite achieve in Schitt’s Creek. But Patrick checks his diva, playfully calling him out or blatantly telling him no, something the Rose family isn’t used to hearing.

He grounds David and challenges his entitlement (like their battle over where to put the toilet plungers in the store) — but in a loving way.

In turn, David’s big personality gives Patrick — an adult looking to give his all to someone — a person with whom he can come to terms with who he really is. David never forces him to rush things (except unintentionally), and rather acts as a supportive presence that gives Patrick the confidence to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Most importantly, Patrick feels like the right step for David and everything the show has taught us about him. His warmth and generosity informs David’s desire for maturity and growth — a personal journey which the simplicity of Schitt’s Creek has helped David realize.

Not for nothing, but it has also never made a big deal that these are two men falling in love, a wonderfully progressive approach.

Television often paints love as a series of huge moments that form a happy ending, but it’s the smaller moments that usually carry the biggest weight if delivered properly. Serenading your guy with a Tina Turner classic is definitely grand, but the smaller steps they’ve both taken toward each other is what has truly defined their relationship.

“Schitt’s Creek” remains one of TV’s best comedies, but this season, for me, it’s David and Patrick who are simply the best.
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