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October 29, 2008

Radio: The lazy person's dream job

You know, as an aspiring television producer, maybe this isn't a wise career move to say out loud, but radio sure is a more civilized way to work!

Don't get me wrong I love TV, and everything that goes into making it. It's just that there is an awful lot that goes into making it. When we went in to record the podcast for "The Fred Tupper Show," I understood how a person could conceivably make a living making drama and still have all of their hair. The two are not mutually exclusive! And I am not even talking necessarily about gray hair! Michael, our recording engineer for example--he had long, luxurious, curly locks.

Of course, working with people like actor and all-around nice guy Neil Crone (Fred Tupper) and Michael Kennedy (some guy who has somehow directed more episodes of Little Mosque on the Prairie than we've even made) make anything seem easy. But beyond that, the purity of the endeavor is remarkable. I suppose writing a novel is possibly a simpler and more pure storytelling
pursuit, but that takes years, and I'm lazy. Very, very lazy. (Again, it's possible that trumpeting this fact isn't a wise career move.)

Instead of coordinating, transporting, and feeding an army of technicians and artists for months on end, all of which normally go into making a TV show, for radio it seems like just a handful of folks in a room, usually laughing! Maybe that's not normally the case, but it certainly was for us.

Oh, and the hair thing is nice too.

October 22, 2008

Q&A with Manoj Sood

This week Orla Garriques meets up with MANOJ SOOD via teleconference for the viewers’ choice Q&A, bringing you what you want to know.

OG: So Manoj, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? You were born in Kenya and raised in Calgary. Since 1994 you’ve appeared in over 45 television and feature film productions, and are one of the most entertaining and adored characters on one of Canada’s top rated series. How does that feel?

MS: It feels great – great to be part of something that is so much bigger than myself. As an actor, we always want to be on a popular show. Little Mosque is more than just popular, as it is a show that creates change in people’s hearts. I feel thankful to be a part of that.

I had always wanted to act but I never had the courage to pursue it. I also doubted if I could find any success at it. Finally, in the early, 90s, I thought it was time to start doing what truly interests me. I took lessons and found an agent. Now many agents later…here I am.

OG: If not acting then what…what else?

MS: If I weren’t an actor I would be a writer. I do write but I have never submitted anything professionally. I have been writing a novel about an East Indian man who grows up in the deep south of the US. I always have found the southern US to be a fascinating place, hence its location in the novel. My passions and interests are astronomy, photography and fishing.

OG: How much of you is Baber Siddiqui, and how much of Baber is Manoj Sood?

MS: Well we both have the same skin tone, same size feet, seriously...I have to become someone very different. It’s a challenge especially in areas like maintaining the accent. I over physicalize him a bit, but try to stay within the confines of what is acceptable in terms of a sitcom.

Donna, student (Toronto) - Baber Siddiqui is a simple man yet a complex character, how did you prepare to take on this role?

MS: I saw him (Baber) as primarily being innocent. When most of us think of someone as being racist or a chauvinist we cannot see ourselves liking that person. Archie Bunker was a racsist but because he was ignorant and didn’t know any better people still loved him regardless of their own skin color. Baber is an immigrant, ignorant to the ways of the West. He comes across at times as a bit racist to non-Muslims. Truly he is a fish out of water. I always try to bring out his innocence and hopefully when I am able to do that we have a character that is liked.

Debbie (USA) - What is it like playing the father of a teenage daughter on the series and what does your son think of Baber?

MS: Being a father really helps. Someone said once: “There are only 2 kinds of people in this world. Those that have kids and those that don’t”.

My son of course thinks of Baber as his favorite character. He likes mimicking Baber’s hand gestures. Basically he thinks Baber is fun. He said once Baber reminds him of Fred Flintstone…. He’s a great kid we just finished an interview for Parenting magazine, coming out later this year, I’m sure he has a bit more to say about dear dad.

Victoria, Teacher (Trenton): You are a role model on so many levels, who inspired you, who are your role models?

MS: I am inspired by people who do things for the people around them and not just themselves. Our shows producers are an example of the kind of people I admire. Yes they have created a marketable product which I hope makes them a lot of money but more important is that they have the intent to create something that will have a positive impact and truly make the world a better place. I admire so many people I wouldn’t feel right mentioning one name specifically because then I would feel guilty for not mentioning the remaining 100,000…., I would like to say that I admire my Mother and Father and in may ways see them as roll models. My father recently was awarded the Order of Canada for his work in promoting multi-culturalism. Every one in our family is proud of him for achieving that.

OG: Last year the ‘Baber rants’ were a definite bonus for Little Mosque fans, it seems you’ve cultivated quite the internet following, what can we expect this year online?

MS: Well this year they gave Baber a partner, Rayyan Hamoudi (Sitara Hewitt). The arguments and silliness and philosophical differences that you see on Little Mosque between Baber and Rayyan show up once again in their new talk show “I on Mercy” which can be found at We cover some hot yet fun subjects such as elections, dating, and parenting.

OG: What next?

MS: Looking forward to a season 4 and in the mean time enjoying a lot of time with my son and time to fish and write oh, and curling… lots and lots of curling.

Don't judge a sitcom by its script

Hi everyone, it’s me (Shane) again.

I hope you’re all enjoying season three of Little Mosque so far. I know I am… Which is a little bit of a surprise to me. Don’t get me wrong… I fully expected to like it. It is just that I read through draft after draft of the scripts, saw scenes being shot in the studio, and watched a rough cuts of these episodes, and still it managed to surprise me. I guess there is something altogether more magical and fun about watching it live on the small screen. Snuggling up to my girl with a bowl of popcorn probably has something to do with it (I tried snuggling up to my bosses once during a director’s cut screening. Bad idea.)

It’s hard for me to divorce myself from the memories of working on these episodes and be able to see them with a fresh eye. But I really do think that these are the best episodes we’ve ever made.

And, hey look, I am not the only one who thinks so: I mean, this guys writes for a newspaper. So you can trust him. I mean, don’t go lending him any money or anything. I’m not going to be on the hook for 20 bucks because you were gullible enough to give some newspaperman some money, (probably to buy another double bourbon if the stereotypes in movies from the 1950s are anything to go by!).

Anyways, keep watching.

October 15, 2008

A big thanks to Indian Head!!!

[click to download the full-size image]

The final crew photo taken in Indian Head, Saskatchewan, in September of 2008. The crew is joined by many of the people of Indian Head, who participated in the production as background actors, suppliers of services, and fans and supporters of the project. Once again, our thanks to the Town and the people of Indian Head.

October 7, 2008

Little Mosque on the Prairie Season 3 Begins!

An all-new season of Little Mosque on the Prairie airs on CBC Wednesdays at 8pm EST, beginning October 1. The new season picks up where last season's cliffhanger left off, as Amaar (and audiences) finally get to find out whether or not Rayyan accepted JJ's marriage proposal. Additionally, all the series regulars are back for another year of hilarious and occasionally outrageous stories in the ultimate ''fish out of water" comedy.


WestWind Pictures, producers of Little Mosque on the Prairie, announces the official launch of the show's new interactive website, coinciding with the Season 3 premier on CBC Television on October 1 at 8pm EST. The site is produced by WestWind Pictures with the participation of the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, in association with Jam3media and CBC Television.

Experience the fun and hilarity at: The new site features exciting interactive content inspired by "fan favorite" episodes, including:

"The Fred Tupper Show"
Mercy's opinionated radio talk show host can be heard in twenty podcasts produced exclusively for the website. The podcasts are available as free downloads. They feature Fred ranting on his favourite topics, or conducting hilarious interviews with some of Mercy's most colourful characters.

"I On Mercy"
The new website also features twenty webisodes inspired by the episode "Public Access" where a motley crew from the mosque became the unlikely hosts of an Islamic-themed program on Mercy's public access station. The webisodes feature Baber and Rayyan as co-hosts of their own morning show. The pilot webisode is now online! New episodes will be added each week, coinciding with the show's broadcast schedule on CBC. (Webisodes are only available in Canada at this time.)

"Fatima's Recipes"
You all know that Fatima serves up delectable dishes, along with a hefty dose of wit. What you may not know is that her dream has always been to create her own cookbook. This section of the website showcases Fatima's innovative take on African cuisine. Six delicious and original recipes are now online. You can download each recipe to create the dishes in your own home. Ten additional recipes will be added over the course of the season.

"The Mercy Curling Challenge"
Inspired by the episode "Jihad On Ice," you now have the opportunity to try your luck at the Mercy Rink. Filled with gorgeous 3-D effects, the interactive game has several levels of difficulty and features "Little Mosque" characters tossing rocks and trash-talking after each victory!


Mary Darling, Executive Producer of Little Mosque on the Prairie, says of the new site: "Our community of fans have been so loyal to us over the past two seasons, and have played a paramount role in our success. This is our way of saying thank you to our fans!"

We hope you enjoy it!