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Winnipeg subs for rinky-dink town in CBC curling show

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The movie Men with Brooms was set in the small Ontario town of Long Bay, and the CBC series of the same name follows suit.

Just don't look to closely at the background locations on the show.

The series was shot not in small-town Ontario but the big (more or less) city of Winnipeg during an intensive 48-day shooting schedule this summer.

Fortunately, the city's amenities dovetailed nicely with the blue-collar, small-town ambience of the show. Much of the curling action you'll see was shot on the ice of the Fort Rouge Curling Club, tucked away in the mostly residential area on Daly Street. And the furniture-factory workplace of two of the characters was shot at a Palliser furniture warehouse in Furniture Park in East Kildonan.

"It's not really a small-town show," said the film's executive producer and show runner Paul Mather while shooting in that warehouse. "I suppose it's a blue-collar show."

Men With Brooms the series allowed the Toronto-based Mather a free hand at reinventing the 2002 film written by and starring Paul Gross.

"Paul was really good about taking his concept and turning it into something else," Mather says, acknowledging Gross only has a couple of cameo appearances on the series.

"So it's all new characters and it's set in the same town as the movie; it's the same curling club, ostensibly, although it looks nothing like it did in the movie."

Paul created the movie and at some point Kirstine Stewart, head of programming at CBC, decided that it would be a great idea for a sitcom on the network, he says.

"So they hired me to come on and (provide the solution to) the problem of how to turn this into a sitcom," says Mather, who has writer-producer credits on other Canadian sitcoms such as Corner Gas and Dan for Mayor. "That wasn't all that hard.

"Curling is kind of a social sport. So we've got a curling lounge built into it so that seemed a natural fit for a sitcom because it's got a place for them to all hang out.

"It's like, something set in a bar, but they've done that; something set at a cafe, OK, that's been done. But nobody's ever done a curling lounge before.

"That was really attractive to me because it's a little bit of Canadiana."

The show's out-of-town cast and crew established camaraderie not only on the rink but in their apartment-building residence during the duration of the shoot.

"We're all staying in the same place," Mather said, referring to a furnished apartment building near Polo Park.

"You can't really stay at a hotel. You need to have a life and be able to cook for yourself and stuff," Mather says. "It's good. It gives it a collegiate atmosphere or... something where we're all stuck in this thing together."

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 2, 2010 C5

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