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November 28, 2008

We can make a difference: Join Little Mosque in the fight against hunger



Little Mosque on the Prairie's cast and crew, in association with the CBC, Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), Islamic Institute of Toronto (IIT) and MuslimServ, are asking YOU to join us in the fight against hunger.

Below are a few ways that you can offer support in your community. Watch for updates as more information rolls in!

TORONTO: WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

DECEMBER 5 | CBC's 'SOUNDS OF THE SEASON' FOOD DRIVE
A day of special programming featuring an all-star lineup of this city's hottest talent, musical guest includes Divine Brown, Molly Johnson, the Barenaked Ladies and cast members of the Sound of Music. Viewers are invited to drop in meet the cast of Little Mosque and other CBC personalities, enjoy live broadcast of Metro Morning (6:30 - 7:00 am), Here & Now (3:00 - 6:00 pm) with special guest Zaib Shaikh at the legendary Glenn Gould Studio. Among this years' incredible auction items is an opportunity to win the ultimate Little Mosque Set Tour.

Admission is free with a food donation - all in support of the DAILY BREAD FOOD BANK.
Complete program listing, locations and details at: http://www.cbc.ca/toronto/features/sots2008/

DECEMBER 8 | EID-AL-ADHA CELEBRATIONS
In the Muslim Community, the food drive swings into gear with Eid-al-Adha celebrations. Attendees are encouraged to drop off non-perishable food items at various Eid gatherings including MAC's Eid prayer and festivities at the Exhibition Place in Toronto, IIT's prayers in Scarborough, and prayers in Mississauga.

Donations can be dropped off at Exhibition Place on Eid Day, December 8, 10am - 6pm
Complete program listing, locations and details at www.gtaeid.com

VANCOUVER: WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

DECEMBER 5 | CBC RADIO ONE FOOD BANK DAY
Give a little bit! Broadcasting live from Waterfront Station in Gastown, The Early Edition (5:30 - 8:30 am), BC Almanac (12 - 2pm) and On The Coast (3 - 6 pm), viewers are invited to drop in and enjoy the live broadcast, musical performances and meet CBC personalities, including a special appearance by Little Mosque's Manoj Sood.

Admission to this exciting event is free with a food donation - in support of the BC FOOD BANKS.
Complete details at http://www.cbc.ca/bc/features/foodbank/

November 17, 2008

The Prairie Dog Lodge. It's a funny place.

I hope you all liked last week's episode, "Let Prairie Dogs Lie." I always love it when our characters get to stretch their legs a little, and get out of the usual locations. (Hamoudi Living Room, you know I love you. I really do. But after three years together, I think I need to see other rooms.)

This was a great episode for getting out into the world of Mercy and beyond. We got to see the expansive vistas that Saskatchewan has to offer. When Sarah and Rayyan are abandoned by the tow-truck, and must walk down the long, dusty road; these are the scenes that really leap off the screen. Plus, they remind the "money people" why we bother to uproot our entire production team and move it all the way from Ontario to Saskatchewan. "No, I don't think that Etobicoke can double for the bald prairie." (That being said, we actually did film most of the dialogue in those driving scenes in the very non-prairie Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. And then we got a matching car in Saskatchewan three months later and filmed the exteriors! Oh, God of Television Magic, how I worship thee.)


A simple conversation in a car is never as simple as that.

Not only did we get those majestic exteriors, we got some spectacular interiors as well. The Prairie Dog Lodge itself was a magnificent creation. The lodge was such a delightfully rich world unto itself that the crew actually smiled when they saw it. That might not sound like laudatory praise, but film crews are a tough bunch to please. Full kudos go to the production designer Brendan Smith, set decorator Mary Kirkland, and their crack teams.


The lodge's Paul of Fame

We had a set visitor on the day we were filming at the lodge, and it was a delight to see her jaw drop when, after touring her around the set, I revealed that it would be torn down after a single day of actual filming. While it might seem difficult to design, build, and destroy a massively complicated set for just one day, someone had to imagine the damn thing in the first place. And for that I give full credit to the writer of the episode, Miles Smith. Your towering creativity, sir, is a logistical nightmare for the rest of us!


Honorary Prairie Dogs: Rob Sheridan, Brendan Smith & Miles G. Smith

November 5, 2008

Viewers' Choice Q&A with Sitara Hewitt

This week we connect with SITARA HEWITT for the viewers' choice Q&A, bringing you answers to your questions.

Sitara Hewitt, much like her character Rayyan Hamoudi, is a strong, intelligent and vibrant woman. The former classically trained dancer has worked in many facets of the entertainment industry—as a dancer, host, model and actor. Sitara recently participated in our VIEWERS' CHOICE Q&A series, answering questions on challenges and triumphs of being on Little Mosque, her new role on the web spin-off "I on Mercy", and hijab chic fashion.

What is it like playing such a bold, outspoken character?

SH: Fantastic! This is the first role I've played where the character's religion forms a great deal of her choices and actions. I feel fortunate also to be playing a character who is unique and unlike any other on television.

It's great to play a character who is empowered and who believes in her cause. It gives her a great deal of depth and strength. It's important to me and the writers to keep her accessible so that though she is a feminist, a doctor and a devout Muslim, she's still flawed, makes mistakes and can sometimes be downright wacky! That's what I like about Rayyan, she's like so many young women who are just trying to do their best with regards to family, love, faith and work.

Sarah (Ottawa) - How challenging is the role and how you deal with the challenges?

SH: Though Rayyan and I are similar in some ways (we're both of mixed ethnicity and grew up in small town Canada) our lifestyles couldn't be more different. Primarily, I was raised Christian and she is a devout Muslim. While a lot of my relatives are Muslim and I've spent time in Islamic countries, I don't presume to know what it's like to be a Muslim woman in Canada who wears the hijab. So I read, and meet with women who are just like Rayyan.

Since Little Mosque on the Prairie is the first show of its kind we are always moving into slightly unchartered waters. Though our story lines are more family and comedy based than controversial, we are still aware that this is the first time this religion has been portrayed in a sitcom, so we try to be respectful while still making good entertainment and warm comedy the priority. A challenge for me personally is trying to let go of trying to please everyone, because that's impossible! Now my focus is to just do my best, trust my instincts and know that I'll learn from any mistakes I may make.

Shimara (facebook) - Last season's cliffhanger nearly killed me. Any more surprises for Rayyan this season?

SH: Yes! Every time I got a new episode script I was surprised, so I think audiences will be too. Rayyan will be faced with some life changing decisions with regards to her personal, and dare I say, love life. I wish I could say more about it but I can't! Viewers will find out as the season goes on…

There is so much attention surrounding Rayyan's love interests, what do you value in a relationship?

SH: Honesty, fun, inspiration and support.

Derek (Toronto) - Do you feel any pressure being a role model?

SH: Well, I definitely feel more pressure now than when no one knew who I was! Do I nominate myself to be a role model?
No, I don't. I think it's important to make the distinction between myself and the character I play. While I'm delighted that people enjoy and relate to Rayyan, at the end of the day I am not her. I am an actor, I am me, and I‘m trying to figure it all out like everyone else! If people connect to the character I play then I guess it just means I'm doing my job.

From role model to fashion icon, numerous viewers have written wanting to know about your style, where can they buy what Rayyan's wearing?

SH: We have an incredible designer on the show, Resa McConaghy (recently nominated for a Gemini). Not only do I have a blast working with her, but she's fantastic at what she does, and she makes a point of understanding all of our characters inside and out. There are talks about creating a Rayyan clothing line. I'm in favor of that because Rayyan's got classy style!

What's new for Little Mosque this year?

SH: The new season deepens into the characters' lives and it's rewarding to go on that journey with them. Plus the website is awesome this year! I just checked it out and was impressed! I personally enjoy playing myself in the curling game (ha! ha!). There are new webisodes each week called "I on Mercy"—a Mercy-based Regis and Kelly style show with Baber and Rayyan as the hosts. Imagine those two having to deal with each other! There are great radio podcasts by Fred Tupper with all the other residents of Mercy stopping by to chat with him. I laughed out loud at those. Neil Crone is classic as Fred.